As we plough through the first month of the year, counting the cost of kilojoules consumed and getting back to work, spare a thought for the part of Australia ravaged by bush fires and facing the threat of worse to come with extreme temps hitting history-making highs.
Tasmania near Dunalley
Thousands of people were stranded on the Tasman Peninsula since the Forcett bushfire cut it off from the rest of the state, and holiday makers and residents carrying their pets and worldly possessions, crammed on to ferries and on a flotilla of private boats, fleeing what must be an horrific sight as their homes and businesses are decimated.
For once, Queensland remains unscathed by the wet season drenchings and no bush fires as yet, a weather blessing which has resulted in the 'best low season for years' for some charter companies.
Sunsail Summer Bonus - yacht charters in the Whitsundays - Audi Victoria Week
This week, we look at the rise of chartering in Australia and around the world, at all ends of the spectrum, from entry level to absolute luxury - the trends, demographics and strategies for getting non-yachties in to yachting.
Also this week, another major feature looking at sponsorship and the host of benefits to sailing, both as a sport and recreational pastime. It seems to me, and plenty of commentators on the subject, sponsorship that comes with high profile branding can only have positive consequences for yachting.
The flet downwind in the Bretagne In-Port Race, in Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)
With many thousands of events and individuals competing for diminishing sponsorship budgets - remember, it's just one form of marketing - how can money devoted to sailing (whatever the context or at any level) be detrimental to the sport or attracting fans?
If athletes feel overshadowed by the brands that pay their way in the profession or as amateurs competing at the top level, their managers and media team need to do more to capitalise on their time in the spotlight and create opportunities to raise their profile.
Crowds gather in the race village for the public prize giving, in Galway, Ireland, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)
Some good news from the US, with our mate Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA, stating that the US recreational boating industry has seen the tide turn for new power boat sales with an estimated 10% increase in 2012.
Early projections indicate the industry will see additional increases in 2013 by as much as 5-10%, depending on a number of factors that impact recreational boating, such as consumer confidence and the housing market, and sustained increases in Americans’ participation in outdoor recreation.
Gold Coast International Marine Precinct map
There are more details on the proposed addition to current marine facilities, with the Gold Coast International Marine Precinct, costing around $390 million, which is planned for the growth corridor of the northern Gold Coast, Coomera - where approved housing development, infrastructure, rail link and new Westfield shopping centre all point to growth in this corner of south-east Queensland and good news indeed for the marine industry.
Also on the Gold Coast, David Hill, former head of the ABC and Soccer Australia, among other senior positions, will be speaking at Southport Yacht Club, Friday 15 February, launching his latest novel 'The Great Race'. David will discuss the epic tale that is more compelling than fiction, how the world’s then superpowers, Britain and France, became locked in a perilous race to complete the map of Australia – some 18 years after the colony was founded. Just $49 for a superb 2-course lunch, great company and splendid views. Money raised goes to Sailability and supporting junior sailors. If you can make it, book your tickets now!
Loads more, along with launches, new products and plans for 2013. A few major announcements too in the pipeline so stand by and pop back later in the week for our exclusives.
Til then, top boating!