The BBC said today “we are living in the Digital Age”. Not much of a surprise there, eh? But think for a moment what that means to you (and to us in the ‘news' business...) Once upon a time you got to read about events and regattas a good while after they happened. Now you can get the info almost as soon as it happens – and in many cases, while it is still happening. News stories (and features, and product reviews, and all the rest of it) are available more or less in real time. Facebook spreads the word. Twitter even brings you ‘tweets' from crew on offshore races.
Sail-World Asia is five years old now – actually we hit the birthday sometime in May. We started in 2005 with a subscriber list of about 500 names, and today this newsletter is going out 4,398 readers. And on top of that, around 9,000 unique visitors in Asia will visit Sail-World during the next month. Once upon a time we used to talk about ‘page views', but ‘unique visitors' is the number of different people who visit the website in a given period – no matter how many times they visit it. (Our figures come from the independent web-metrics people, Alexa.com. We didn't just make them up). And that means that more sailors, boaters, and yachties are plugged in to Sail-World Asia and our other editions (Powerboat-World.com, Sail-World.com/Cruising, MarineBusiness-World.com) than to any other marine news website in the region. Half of them are in China (that was a surprise!). We already run news stories in Thai, and before the end of this year we will add Chinese and Korean language reporting.
What have we noticed in those five years? Well, everyone wants to be ‘international', and everyone declares themselves to be the biggest/best/most prestigious event in the calendar. There's a lot of pr hype out there (and some of it is quite amusing), so we try to sort the wheat from the chaff, and try to bring a little objectivity to the picture. When we can, we report on a lot of events and regattas ourselves rather than sitting in the office and forwarding the press releases. Sometimes we find that the blurb doesn't match up to the performance. One event we attended recently described themselves as “the biggest boat show in Asia” – but when we asked them if this was based on the number of visitors, the number of boats in the water, the aggregate length of boats in the water, the value of the boats on display or just the number of exhibitors, they were unable to say.
Something similar goes for regattas. We know one Asian regatta that says it is going to be “one of the top ten regattas in the world”: let's think – Cowes Week, Key West, Geelong Week, Kiel Week, Block Island... my word, that's a tough list to break into! And another Asian event recently declared its goal (after just three events, the most recent with 26 entries, from two countries) of “becoming (the) world's biggest international yacht race” – presumably, right up there with the Fastnet, the Sydney-Hobart, the Transpac, and the Bermuda Race. Those are big shoes to jump into, so excuse us if we think there are a few balloons that need to be pricked.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said recently that he thought that some places in this part of the world were doing it “the wrong way round”. Starting at the top with expensive (and empty) yacht clubs, and wondering why the world - and the sailors - weren't flocking to their doors. “They have seen the posh places and the big events, and want the same, but without realising that they are all built on a long history that started at the grass roots. Sailors and small events came before big clubs and big events – not the other way round”. So please excuse us, if you must, when we are sometimes rather skeptical, and try to inject a little reality into our reporting of Asian events.
Over the years of sifting some of the more outrageous claims, we have come to the conclusion that the three most important things that make a good regatta are race management, race management, and race management. Assisted by competent regatta organisation and a good venue. “Give a sailor his grog, and nothing goes wrong”, sang David Isom, so add in a couple of good parties, and you may have a winner – even if the wind doesn't always co-operate! “Give them some good racing, a couple of cold beers and a chance to stand around and talk bull***t, and everyone is happy,” was how one very visible Asian regatta participant summed it up. Firework displays and fashion shows are strictly optional extras. Interminable self-congratulatory speeches from dignitaries in suits and administrators in blazers are not. At one event we attended recently, someone reported after the Closing Ceremony that “the Jury and Committee got more trophies than the sailors, so all as expected.”
And don't even get me started on those well-funded events that hand out ‘entry money' and ‘subsidies' to attract competitors - and prize money. How many of their competitors will return when the cash is not forthcoming, unless the event has proven itself to be really first-class?
And then there's the China Explosion. Still a work in progress... Marinas galore, and the prospect of millions of people suddenly going boating. But how many of that enormous population have access to the water, and to a low-cost sailing facility or club? And how do the (potential) power boaters get past the fact that there are still no government regulations that recognize a ‘pleasure' or ‘leisure' vessel. Practicalities: we understand that of all the marinas in China, only one has a travel hoist. Most – if not all – the marinas are more akin to a property development with a pond and some pontoons in front (to justify the “marine lifestyle” marketing hook) than a real boating facility. The “marine industry” is actually an export industry – boats are being built in China, but sold overseas. Five years ago we said, “it'll happen, but not just yet...” Watch this space.
So let's look on the positive side! Sailing, boating and yachting IS growing in Asia. Singapore, and Thailand have youth development programmes in place that are producing national and international medallists in the junior classes. There are so many big boat regattas on the menu that owners and crew have a tough time deciding which one(s) to attend – we are often asked, “you've been there... is such-and-such worth going to?” The fact that those events are sprinkled across Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore demands a huge commitment from owners and crew in terms of money and time, but the circuit is flourishing. Maybe none of those regattas are in the World Top Ten (however you care to define that) but they are still first class, and the wise ones trade on an established reputation without going overboard on the PR hyperbole. Powerboat brokers and agents are selling bigger and bigger boats in ever-greater numbers – but there is a serious shortage of marina berths for the big boats, all over the region.
Cut through the flim-flam, and leisure marine activities are alive and well in Asia - financial crisis? What's that? All the manufacturers in the western hemisphere are looking to Asian customers to keep them afloat. More and more superyachts are coming to the region, reportedly because they've ‘done' the Med and the Caribbean, and anyway Asia is a lot cheaper than either of them.
So we'll keep reporting on what goes on in Asia, and around the world, and we'll try to do so without getting sucked in to the press release vortex. The unique visitor traffic for Sail-World, Powerboat-World and MarineBusiness-World (that is, our circulation) for the first five months of the year is up a remarkable 50% over 2009. In February 2010, our audience reached 185,000 readers and by the same time next year, should top 225,000 readers per month. That is unrivalled anywhere, in any market for networked marine media and that will continue to grow as our iPad-friendly sites will offer news in Chinese, Korean and Thai over the coming year. And yes, there are specialist Sail-World.com, Powerboat-World.com and MarineBusiness-World apps for both iPhone and iPad coming soon too.
That means lots of news for you, the readers; lots of exposure for the events we cover – and their sponsors; and lots of audience for our advertisers.
Next week: Korea International Boat Show and the Korea Match Cup. We'll be there!
Guy Nowell, Editor
Koh Samui Regatta - Neil Pryde opens the batting Sawadee.com media, The 2010 Koh Samui Regatta began today in glorious conditions, with blue skies overhead and clear blue waters below. Last year's winners, Neil Pryde and the crew of Hi Fi, have returned to defend their title – and will be expecting fierce competition in their division from Ray Roberts of Evolution Racing, Frank Pong of Jelik II (Boracay) and Nick Burns/Fred Kinmouth of EFG Bank Mandrake.... [more] Share this story
Clipper 09-10 – Changing conditions provides fantastic sailing Clipper Ventures PLC, Clipper Update: After the inevitable frustrations of the very light conditions of the past few days, over the last 24 hours the conditions have changed to produce some fantastic downwind sailing and, with the forecast for the next 24 hours showing the winds strengthening, the race to New York is on.... [more] Share this story
Winner of 25 year Meridien Marinas Free Berthing Competition announced www.sail-world.com, We have just spoken to the still shaking long time Sail-World Cruising reader from South East Queensland who has just been announced the winner of the Meridien Marinas Free Berthing for the next 25 years competition. A prize conservatively valued at AUD$300,000... [more] Share this story
Extreme Sailing Series Europe - Double podium finish for Oman Into the Blue, Extreme Sailing Series Europe update. Winds were expected to be strong, with the forecasters predicting up to 40 knots. Oman Sail's The Wave, Muscat began the day in second place overall, just four points behind the leaders, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, with their team-mates Masirah just four points behind them.... [more] Share this story
‘We can win medals in Asian Games sailing' says Pakistan Alam Zeb Safi, The News, “The final team for the Asian Games would be announced soon after the completion of the trials which are currently in operation here at the PN Aquatic Club and which will last till the middle of next month,” said the secretary of the PSAF Zahid Rauf.... [more] Share this story
Delta Lloyd - Images from Medemblik: Sander van der Borch Sander van der Borch, Top international photographer, Sander van den Borsch, is at the DeltaLloyd Regatta at Medemblijk, Netherlands and presents the second of two galleries of images from the fifth round of the ISAF World Cup of Sailing... [more] Share this story
ICAP Leopard begins Transatlantic Record Attempt Pitch PR, ICAP Leopard has started her 2,925 nautical mile monohull transatlantic speed record attempt. Starting in 15 knots of wind, ICAP Leopard will head north to hook into a weather system developing over Nova Scotia this weekend.... [more] Share this story
Louis Vuitton Trophy: Field tightens at La Maddalena on Day 8 Louis Vuitton Trophy and WSTA Media, Just one point separates the top five boats at the Louis Vuitton Trophy after an eventful program of five races sailed today in fresh breezes off Sardinia, Italy. With two days' competition remaining in the round robin, the pressure began to tell in strong winds this afternoon as Sweden's Artemis broke a gennaker pole and shredded a gennaker, and a jib began to self-destruct on Emirates TNZ.... [more] Share this story
Olympic Gold medalist dies with his sea boots on Bob Fisher, Reg White, who has died aged 74, was a universally loved and respected sailor. An Olympic gold medallist and multi-world champion, his prowess in catamarans was legendary, but he was just as much at home in his clinker-built (fibreglass) 18-foot Brightlingsea One-Design, the boat he was sailing when he suffered the heart attack which proved terminal. He died with his sea boots on.... [more] Share this story
America's Cup: Alinghi boss appointed CEO of Team Origin Team Origin Media and Sail-World, The announcement by TeamOrigin of the appointment of a new CEO, following the conclusion of the last America's Cup match in February, and the start of the next Cup cycle, will surprise many. Last week TEAMORIGIN announced that it would be strengthening its management team as it ramps up its operations as it heads towards the 34th America's Cup, following the ousting of Team Director, Mike Sanders... [more] Share this story
Dalton lets fly at Louis Vuitton Trophy Umpires over penalty Warren Douglas, The Louis Vuitton Trophy jury has dismissed an Emirates Team New Zealand protest against a decision that cost the team a race against BNW Oracle. Emirates Team New Zealand was well placed to win the round robin match in the Louis La Maddalena regatta when the umpires awarded a penalty against the team on the final run.... [more] Share this story
Borneo Cruising - not a bad life... Neil and Ley Langford, Neil and Ley Langford have been cruising for over ten years now on their yacht Crystal Blues, and they send us this tit-bit from their experiences in South East Asia - if you're not out there cruising, just think, you could be doing this:... [more] Share this story
China as a cruising destination? - new marina announced Sail-World Cruising, China is not known as a cruising destination, but that could all change in the near future as China becomes more and more interested in yachting. Camper and Nicholsons Marinas, one of the world's most prestigious marina operators, has just been commissioned to design and operate a marina in Sanya, in Southern China.... [more] Share this story
America's Cup: ISAF report 'applauds' Bennett's unilateral actions Richard Gladwell, The International Sailing Federation's Race Officials Committee has 'applauded' the actions of Principal Race Officer, Harold Bennett, in starting the second race of the 33rd America's Cup, against the wishes of the Defender appointed Race Committee, and in the face of a subsequent 'mutiny' from three of the members of that Committee.... [more] Share this story
MatchRaceThailand: first two events in Varuna, Thailand. The Players Morten Jakobsen, The first ever match racing events at Royal Varuna Yacht Club, Thailand has attracted strong field of skippers. Players include Neil Semple (THA), Jon Ericsson (FIN), Kevin Whitcraft (THA), Cristopher Lim (SIN), and Morten Jakobsen (THA) Two came second in their respective regional qualifiers of the MR Nations Cup, but only one has reached 31 on the world ranking list.... [more] Share this story
Singapore SB3 Mayhem Regatta - Two different days Chris Holmes, The Singapore SB3 Fleet held its second weekend regatta over the weekend of the 22/23 May. A competitive fleet of 8 boats took to the water, for two days of close racing. The final results being Glasgow Kiss in first, Alidade in second and Hullaballoo in third.... [more] Share this story
MYC Manila Boracay Race 2011 to be followed by 18th President's Cup Bryan Levinge, The 202 nm, Category 3 Manila to Boracay Race will start in the waters of Manila Bay off Roxas Boulevard on February 4 2011 and will finish in front of Boracay's famous fine white powder sand Beach.... [more] Share this story
Seychelles Regatta 2010 – Hyundai leads nine-boat flotilla Gerard Govinden, Seychelles Regatta 2010 today saw Hyundai leading the chase in the nine-boat flotilla to succeed Michel Desjoyeaux and his Champagnes Nicolas Feuillatte team as the Seychelles Regatta champions.... [more] Share this story
Korea Cup 2010 - the Russian Revolution and the Race That Never Was Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia, The programme said that at 0000 hrs the fleet would head 40-odd nm east to Dok-do, a pair of small islands with a Korean garrison, to start the Dok-do to Hoopo Race, the last leg of the Korea Cup 2010 Offshore Series. It was blowing old boots at Ulleung-do, and word came from the Korean Coastguard that there was 28 kts of breeze and a swell of 5-8 m at Dok-do.... [more] Share this story
Korea Cup 2010 – island scenery Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia, What a difference a day makes! On Saturday the Korea Cup Offshore fleet cruised across to Ulleung-do in bright sunshine, gentle breezes and an almost flat sea. By the time all the boats were tied up in Ulleung-do New Harbour in the early hours of Sunday morning, the fine weather had disappeared, and Sunday turned out grey and uninviting – with a promise of some more boisterous stuff to come... [more] Share this story
NYYC Invitational Cup 2011 - Entries from around the world expected Barby MacGowan, When its Invitational Cup comes around again in 2011, the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) will proudly fly the country flags of yacht clubs from around the world. The top finishers in 2009 are offered automatic entry to the 2011 event.... [more] Share this story
World Match Racing Tour - World Champion Minoprio wins Stage 2 WMRT media, ISAF World Match Racing Tour 2010 - Match Race Germany -Mighty Mother Nature was Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing's best friend today as he took the Match Race Germany Trophy. The finals today at Stage 2 have been tortuous for the remaining racers. The wisps of wind that did strike the glassy lake today taunted the Tour's competitors.... [more] Share this story
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