Wednesday, March 23, 2011


SailBlast recently helped organize the first event of an ongoing seminar series to address topics related to the America’s Cup 34 - the topic, “Unfurling Opportunities in the World’s Most Prestigious Sailing Event” (kind of wordy but we were reprimanded by ACEA for our initial use “America’s Cup” in the event title…).

The seminar was hosted by and targeted the Bay Area sailing community and industry. That it sold out in three days indicates there’s a thirst out there in our local San Francisco community for information on AC34… Held at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the seminar featured speakers with experience and business acumen garnered from their work in the America’s Cup and other major sailing events.

John Craig, Principal Race Director for the 34th America’s Cup shared the proposed AC34 San Francisco waterfront activities such as the location for Team bases, media offices, AC34 administrative offices and other activities that will take space on the piers with access to the water.

Other speakers included Ashley Tobin, Start Line Strategies, America's Cup Counsel and Rules Advisor; Eric Holzheimer, Managing Director for Global Sports Access Inc., a corporate engagement company; and Howie Shiebler, Owner, Protector Boats USA. The event was moderated by John Arndt, Associate Publisher, Latitude 38, and event co-organizer.

Keynote speaker Gary Jobson needed no introduction. Gary spends a good deal of his life traveling the country doing what he does best, promoting sailing, so we were lucky to catch him on a west coast tour. He gave the audience just what they came for: solid ideas and advice on getting involved in AC34, and here's what he had to say...

* First, I applaud this group for making this program happen. The fact that you got 150+ people to show up here on a Tuesday afternoon and take some time out of your working life tells me this city is already engaged. Having said that, very important to spend some time and study what has happened in the past, in other sporting events including sailing - the Olympics, the Whitbread, the Volvo, America’s Cup - what has happened in the past? They all have things we can learn from and talk about.

* To get something to happen, you have to put something into it. In your own business, in your own life, think about what your skills are, think about what your products are, what you have to offer and maybe there’s something there for you. There’s going to be an awful lot of spin-off and money can come your way.

* Remember that nobody in this room is a competitor with each other. You are all on the same team and on the same boat. There’ll be plenty to spread around and you need to take that attitude.

* Make things easy. I’ve been to 7 Olympic Games, done four for NBC and covered some others. The Olympics are to get into the venues, hard to go through security - it’s almost arduous. Make things as easy and accommodating as you can.

* Provide easy access to the water. If I own a charter company, or a sailing school, I will want to take people out sailing and be on the same race course at the same time - even if its for two hours. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities because people will want to get out onto the water.

* You have a lot of wonderful yacht clubs here in the Bay Area and I suggest that different yacht clubs adopt different teams and be accommodating particularly to the overseas teams - let them have a home and get them involved here in your racing and regattas.

* It’s a time to celebrate the history of San Francisco - I think it’s intriguing that the Transpac actually started here before the Newport Bermuda race started on the east coast, for example. Either way, you have a lot of history here and museums so take advantage of this.

* It’s important to advertise - locally, nationally and internationally. We need some cool logos and the Event Authority has to come up with that kind of stuff. We need a really good, special “look”.

* Celebrity tie-ins - when the celebrities show up it adds to the cool factor. Presidents have always been involved in the Cup somehow - President Obama had Larry Ellison and the Team to the White House on June 30 last year.

* Charity tie-ins - the success that the Leukemia Cup has every year here tells me something about this Bay and that people here do think about charity. I do encourage the sport of sailing to do some things outside the sport of sailing like the Leukemia Cup.

* The tie-in with Silicon Valley - the information super highway is right here and there can be all kinds of associated corporate hospitality etc..

* Promote alternative activities for visitors…three days of watching races and you may like to go do something else, or at least your spouse may want to - wine country, Monterey - whatever.

* Visitors will want to meet the sailors and I recommend skippers’ forums - actually seeing and hearing these guys, not hiding them - these sailors need to be public figures. That’s got to be part of their job so I’m giving them that message through you.

* I do think your leaders - Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts - need to be more public and be out there so we can get to know them a little better.

* Celebrate and cherish the history of the America’s Cup. The 12 years just past are archaic compared to these catamarans that we’re about to see. It’s been 160 years but each of these boats was the fastest and most sophisticated design at the time that they were racing, and the sailors pushed the boats at an unbelievable pace. There are really intriguing engaging stories so I would celebrate the past and think about how cool it is to have it in San Francisco, building upon what happened in Valencia, Auckland, San Diego, Newport, Fremantle and the Isle of Wight.

* Send ambassadors out into the country and around the world to talk about how cool it is that it’s in San Francisco. Get a group of half a dozen people together and ask everybody to speak six times, 36 presentations around the US inviting people to come - whether it be at boat shows, various club meetings - tell the world you’re open for business, to come here and what are you selling? You’re selling having a really great time. That’s why you want to come - the America’s Cup will be part of history.

* Commercial ideas - I’d like to see 20 Lasers out the front here, tacking back and forth, spinning around, or a bunch of windsurfers and kite boarders out there, showcasing our sport.

* Hosting conferences for all kinds of things - have a conference here during AC34 for your business and come watch the sailing at the same time.

* For advertisers, for sponsors, the question is, “Will my association with the America’s Cup improve the reputation and the visibility of my product?” and most importantly, “Will I sell a little bit more as a direct result?”

Jobson finished with:

“The ONLY way to do this is for everybody in this room to keep talking about it in a really positive tone and that will be infectious. It will make a big difference.”


Gary Jobson:

John Craig: &

Panel Discussion: &

Thanks to organizers Sylvia Faison Wilkerson, Event Organizers; Michelle Slade, Slade Communications; Vince Casaleina,; Roger Krakow, Rough House; and volunteers Paige Brooks, Shaolin Low and Stephanie Handler.

* GoSailingSF, based in San Francisco, is a 501c3 non profit group organized to grow the sport of sailing in San Francisco., or for more information.

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