Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cup Shows At This Week's Strictly Sail Pacific

Before reading any further, quick, go to the following link and get your Scuttlebutt $5 discount code for your ticket to Strictly Sail Pacific, the largest sail only show west of the Rockies happening in the Bay Area this week: (alternatively, enter “Scuttlebutt” in the promotional code box).

With that done, read on…

Strictly Sail Pacific runs April 14-17, at Jack London Square in Oakland, California. The America’s Cup will be on display at the show throughout the day on Thursday, April 14, followed by an evening presentation and reception at the Waterfront Hotel from 6–8 pm. On hand to provide an update on what’s happening with AC 34 will be Kyri McClellan of the America’s Cup Organizing Committee (ACOC); Mike Martin, Director of Rules Administration and Umpiring; Ian “Fresh” Burns, Design Team Coordinator with Oracle Racing; and Stephanie Martin, Chief Communications Officer of the America’s Cup Event Authority. Great line up.

There’s no doubt that the America’s Cup is already providing a boost to marine-based companies both around the Bay and further afield. Says Jonathan Banks, Director of Sail America, the non-profit organization that organizes Strictly Sail, “Our clients have a greater level of hope, enthusiasm and optimism for the market that the Cup will bring, and when people are feeling buoyant they are more likely to exhibit at shows, advertise in magazines and try to grow their business. From a long term planning perspective there’ a stronger commitment to keep the show in the Bay Area, be it Jack London Square or another location.

This is especially good news for the show which has had a fairly level attendance over the past few years but a decline since 2007 due to the recession and to renovations at Jack London Square which affected space available to the show. Banks says online ticket sales are tracking about 20% ahead of last year, a positive indicator.

“We’re hoping for attendance similar to last few years (approximately 12,000) with single to low double digit growth. With the America’s Cup at the show, it’s lining up to be a good one. We sold out all of our land and booth space about a month ago but were able to go back to the Square and negotiate to use additional areas. Our goal was to fill was the center marina basin and we squeezed the last boat in just a few days ago.”

For businesses like Ronstan USA, the show offers a great opportunity to present products directly to local sailors and to network with local industry associates who they don't typically do much business with according to Alan Prussia, VP Sales. “The Cup will be great for our local business albeit on an indirect basis,” Prussia said. “Our retailers, riggers and sailmakers should see significant increases in business which is what we’ll benefit from.”

Sean Svendsen, VP and COO for Svendsen's Marine and Boat Works, a national retailer located in Alameda, Calif., agrees that while its hard to gauge the effect that the Cup will have on his business people seem to have a renewed interest in their boats.

“Certainly there is a lot of buzz amongst Bay Area residents in general. Based on the totality of it all, we are gearing up for greater utilization and service demand. We've been exhibiting at this show for at least 15 years. Coincidentally in our first 10x10 foot booth we sold America's cup logo wear. Now we regularly consume about 2000 square feet +\- of display space and sell hundreds of products at the show.”

Bottom line, said Banks, is that it’s clear that the America’s Cup Event Authority’s vision for the Cup is to reach a broader market/audience and to use the Cup to bring more people into the sport of sailing, which is very much aligned with Sail America’s goals.

Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

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