There’s a jolly good chance that you’ve got one eye on the TP52 World Championship in Palma with another on the Laser World Championships in Barcelona, right? And you’re counting the days down to the AC Protocol unveil, slated for the 17th November. Yawn.

But before then and far more interesting, there’s those bonkers French lining up to make the north and south Atlantic look like a reservoir in the Midlands as they blast around on the Transat Jacques Vabre whilst a host of completely insane Mini Transat boats bob around like corks and find the next offshore sailing superstar.

©Max Ranchi

It’s all still very much ‘go’ on the yachting calendar but you’ve got to go and chase the sun to find the action or dig out the layers to get sailing in the northern hemisphere. I also note that Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard are currently on Code Red awaiting the green light for another tilt at the Jules Verne record.

This time the Spindrift team, under the guise of ‘Sails of Change’ are going fully eco-friendly with a commitment to use zero fossil fuels by using solar and wind power plus power generated by…cycling.

Blimey – you’d think it hard enough to sail around the world without being asked to do three hours a day of spin classes or racing on Zwift in order to cook your baked bean supper (can you imagine the smell of sweat onboard?) but it’s to be applauded. Dona is an absolute legend and is taking on the role of ‘onboard reporter’ on this, her second attempt at the Jules Verne. She’s a cool lady and has more than likely eclipsed her wayward brother for sheer sailing brilliance.

©Duncan Spath / Spindrift

But amidst all the news and hoopla, a press release snuck out yesterday that I think is pretty significant. The excitement that’s building around the SailGP circuit is like a vicious undercurrent on a still river. Once you dive in, and yes I know there’s many still on the banks casting judgement, you get whisked away on a fast tide of infinite fascination.

Everywhere they’ve been this year on the series, it’s been full-on, high octane, brilliantly visual, achingly relevant and highly entertaining racing. And with the next stopover being Sydney for what can only be an absolute belter of a regatta, Russell’s comms team have snuck out an announcement that KPMG has signed on the dotted line as ‘Presenting Partner.’

Why is this significant? Well in the current sponsorship environment, pulling in the big corporates is the hardest thing on planet earth to do right now. Just getting around the table with the marketing team at any big corporation is a success in itself.

But actually getting them to sign up, pass money, begin activating and get onboard is massive. Winning in corporate-land takes persistence and guile with every cent and penny counted and eyeballs measured and analysed. Sponsors want return – ROI – they won’t and simply can’t be seen in shareholder’s eyes to be spending cash because the CEO does the odd bit of weekend sailing and quite fancies hanging out with Larry Ellison on the off chance.

Ricardo Pinto for SailGP

But crucially, with Russell and his team pressing the flesh in global corporate boardrooms and securing the likes of Rolex and the Fortune 500 company Cognizant, he’s presenting a far more logical and modern sponsorship package than the America’s Cup.

Sponsorship dollars that otherwise would have flowed to the apex are now into SailGP and there’s every chance that they won’t flow back. The return profile of SailGP is increasing at every venue and I’m not the only one who points out regularly that the longer the AC stays in Siberian hibernation, the worse it will get and rather like an old car in the driveway, the harder it will be to fire up the motor.

©Bob Martin for SailGP

Furthermore, what SailGP does brilliantly is keep the continuity going on social media. I’ve lost count the number of times my teenager approaches me at the dinner table saying: “Dad have you seen…” and it’s invariably a short-clip of some derring-do as a SailGP crew member somersaults off the trampoline or a pitch-pole at a million knots (or Km/h as they stupidly persist on using).

Plus, and this is crucial, there’s an element of humour to the posts – something that the America’s Cup has lost entirely. In sharp contrast, what’s presented by the achingly dull Cup proposal is patronising, presumptive, social media dross. The viewer is expected to marvel at the wonder and that’s just not how it works. I’ve said it before but the communications around the AC needs a complete overhaul – desperately.

©Bob Martin for SailGP

So whilst the AC wallows, SailGP soars. Ben Ainslie’s bought a franchise. Pete & Blair have a platform for their causes. Jimmy Spithill has an outlet for all that competitiveness and Tom Slingsby can showcase his unbelievable talent with ease whilst flying the flag so high for Australian sporting brilliance. Meanwhile, Nathan Outteridge will be different class in Sydney safe in the knowledge that’s he’s top of the pile in the driver’s standings now with a Team New Zealand contract under his belt. And KPMG will be aligned with all that at a fraction of the cost of going bling bling with the Cup. Genius move KPMG. Genius.

Now, and here’s the thing, when’s Rolex going to step up and scoop the overall series sponsorship – Rolex Sail GP Series – you heard it here first.

No brainer.

One thought on “Genius

  1. I love that the SailGP social media channels have included more humor this year, but I feel like they learned by watching the VOR, who have featured a similar tone for years— remember some of the absolutely bonkers stuff from the last edition, like the Southern Ocean Dating App and Liz Wardley voicing Wisdom the Albatross?

    As far as I know, they are also the only major event to have done an April Fools joke in recent years. (The “you tell the sailors what to do” article.)

    Between the humor, the colorful boat livery, the environmental and educational messages, and the worldwide live streaming, my experience as a fan who only started in 2016 has been “SailGP is like if the AC copied the best parts of the VOR”.


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