Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik Yachting Range

The Longest Regatta Bar in the World - or, What's in a Name?

by Guy Nowell, Yachtstyle magazine on 2 Oct 2011
Guy Nowell, keeping an eye on things in Hong Kong Guy Nowell © http://www.guynowell.com
Is it just me, or have the press releases and announcements surrounding sailing events and regattas been getting just that little bit more breathless lately? Shakespeare was probably right - 'a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'

But what if the bottled rose water is being used to mask an odour less palatable? Or less exotic? Has anyone else noticed the remarkable proliferation of highly scented ‘pr speak’ that accompanies regattas and sundry marine related events these days? Are they just trying to cover up a different sort of smell?


Media operations have changed substantially over recent years. Once upon a time newspapers and magazines sent staffers to events, and then published the stories they wrote. The reputation of the publication rested on the quality of the writing, and the reputation of the events rested on reports produced by largely independent writers.

Now, the difference between reporting, journalism and pr goes like this: reporting is telling it how it is, journalism is telling it how you think it is, and public relations is telling it how the client thinks it is (or at least, wants it to look). Today, events produce and distribute their own ‘news’, and all the major sailing events in the world have got their media image well sewn up.

Starting with the big players - Volvo Ocean Race, World Match Racing Tour etc - they all produce their own news roundups (read: press releases) and issue them to the waiting world – a media world driven by the insatiably hungry ‘social media’, in which the attention span of the consumer is shorter than a sneeze. Inevitably, that means that a substantially skewed account of any event is what makes it into the public domain.

As soon as an event writes its own press, objectivity is compromised. When did you last see a press release that said ‘our event was a bit of a flop this year, there was no breeze and the race management tanked’? Right, so never believe your own advertising.

There are lots of events all scrambling to get noticed, even within Asia. One local sailor described the Asian regatta circuit as 'same people, same boats, same conditions, different bar'. Take a look at the calendar: there’s a major event, and often more than one, taking place in practically every month of the year - and that’s before you take into consideration the weekend racing happening at your local yacht club.

Your event doesn’t stand a snowball in hell’s chance of being noticed unless it is the biggest, the fastest, the oldest, the longest or the windiest (or whatever), and if you’re not ‘International’ don’t even bother to publish a Notice of Race. So the superlatives pile one on another, and the prose becomes ever more purple.

There have been, recently, a plethora of highly coloured claims of questionable accuracy designed to make any given event sound a great deal more important (or exotic/famous/breathtaking/exciting, or…) than it really is. It’s the result of a number of very much similar events trying to differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd, pumped by the social networks, and ending up as the enthusiastic self-promotion of the ordinary masquerading as extra-ordinary.

Inevitably, the teetering pile of adjectives comes crashing down every now and again as hyper-inflation sets in.

Just this year, 2011, there was an event claiming that they were ‘the first regatta in Asia’ to garner sponsorship from a certain rum manufacturer. It was nonsense, and provable nonsense. When their error was pointed out to them, they said, 'maybe we could say ‘the first regatta in south east Asia…' Heavens, how thin do you want to slice the truth?

An enthusiastic sailor friend recently summed up the Asian regatta circuit as 'Same conditions, same boats, same people, different bar.' There are exceptions, but this piece is not about promoting or discrediting any particular event – just about pointing out a few things about reporting, and independence.

And accuracy. Oh dear, where do we start? There’s an event in China which once advertised itself as 'bigger than the America’s Cup' – based, presumably, on the fact the AC only involves two boats. Last year there was the press release (also out of China) that described an event as 'attended by all the most famous sailors in the world'. This turned out to be three people with a clutch of European titles between them - obviously much better sailors than I will ever be - but whose names were not familiar. And one name that I recognised because we occasionally drink in the same bar.

And then there was the event in Hong Kong that described itself, in print, as 'Asia’s biggest boat show'. When asked, the PR Manager was unable to tell us whether the claim referred to the number of exhibitors, the number of visitors, the number of boats in the show, the combined length of the boats in the water, or indeed any other quantifiable statistic.

So next time you are attracted by the alluring promise of the hottest competition, the toughest racecourse, the blowiest winds or the longest regatta bar in the world, just check and see who wrote the story. It could be the bar owner himself…











This article is reproduced with the permission of the Editor of Yachtstyle magazine. www.yachtstyleasia.com

North Technology - Southern SparsBakewell-White Yacht DesignColligo Marine 660x82

Related Articles

Rio 2016 - America's Cup champ says Paralympic racing is closest ever
Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar keelboat class at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The regatta is being held in Guanabara Bay on three of the courses used for the Olympic Sailing Regatta in August.
Posted on 13 Sep
Debriefing the Rio 2016 Olympics with Team USA’s Helena Scutt
I talked with Team USA’s Helena Scutt to hear about her Olympic experience, and to learn more about her post-Rio plans. The 49erFX was introduced to Olympic circles when it replaced the Women’s Match Racing event following the 2012 Games. Not surprisingly, it drew high-performance sailors for the Rio 2016 Olympics, including Team USA’s Paris Henken and Helena Scutt. While Henken and Scutt were Olympic first-timers, they put on a strong show. I caught up with Scutt to hear more about her Olympic experience.
Posted on 8 Sep
A Q&A with Peter Bresnan ONE Palma’s founder and director
Sail-World interviewed ONE Palma’s founder Peter Bresnan to learn about the company’s partnership with McConaghy Boats For the past eight years, ONE Palma (formerly OneSails Spain) has been building a strong name, first as a sailmaker and later with refit work. Recently, ONE Palma and McConaghy Boats-legendary boatbuilders who have crafted some of the planet’s fastest sailboats-entered a business partnership. I caught up with Peter Bresnan, ONE Palma’s founder and director, to learn more about this new direction.
Posted on 2 Sep
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ train late on the Waitemata Harbour
Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. The team were sailing their recently launched AC45 Surrogate test boat which features an articulated rudder gantry - taking the AC45 close to the geometry of the AC50 to be used in the 2017 America's Cup.
Posted on 1 Sep
Dateline Rio - Sailing Olympics review - as good as it gets?
The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The weather was better than Weymouth and Qingdao, the courses more varied, but from a working media perspective, it was the people running the Rio regatta who really made the difference.
Posted on 26 Aug
Rio 2016 - Plain speaking by triple-medalist on Olympic sailing moves
Triple Olympic medalist, Santiago Lange has been on the sharp end of changes made to Olympic classes and formats Santiago Lange, a six-time Olympian and Bronze medallist in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, won his third medal – Gold sailing in the Nacra 17 class. With that length of experience at an Olympic level, having sailed the Laser, Tornado and now Nacra 17 classes his comments on the future shape of the Olympic regatta was one of the highlights of the Medallists Media Conferences.
Posted on 25 Aug
An Q&A with Steve and Heidi Benjamin about the NYYC’s 2016 Queen’s Cup
Sail-World caught up with Steve and Heidi Benjamin to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup. When it comes to U.S. Grand Prix sailing, it’s hard not to encounter the names of Steve and Heidi Benjamin. The two highly polished sailors have been successfully campaigning their series of yachts, named SPOOKIE, for years, starting first with a Carkeek 40 and progressing to their TP52. I caught up with Steve and Heidi to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup
Posted on 19 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images of the penultimate race in the Finns - Scott wins
Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn, in what potentially could have been Giles Scott's (GBR) Gold medal winning race. In the end, the current world champion won in style.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images from the Mens RS:X Medal Race
Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class won before the race by Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) without needing points from the Medal Race. Nick Dempsey (GBR) was second on a similar basis.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Sailors talk of Life at the Extreme on the Atlantic Ocean
Certainly the Volvo Ocean Race catchcry of Life at the Extreme is not a phrase associated with the Sailing Olympics. The 470 crews were suffering the mixed emotions of survival of an extreme test by nature, the cold, and for some elation at their placings, after Thursday's battle for survival. In conditions that looked more out of the Volvo Ocean Race, than an Olympic sailing regatta, crews battled 20kt plus winds and Atlantic Ocean rollers that towered up to four metres.
Posted on 13 Aug