On October 21 and 22, the third bi-annual Caribbean Sailing Association Regatta Organizer’s Conference was held and hosted by Casa De Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic. Attended by twenty-seven delegates representing eight Caribbean regattas, the main focus for the weekend was joint promotion of the Caribbean as a destination by developing common marketing tools and strengthening each individual regatta’s marketing.
“Attending the past three regatta organizers conferences has been invaluable to our regatta, which has profited on a number of fronts,” said Julie San Martin, Director of the St. Croix International Regatta in February. “As a small regatta, we have been able to tell our story to the organizers of the larger regattas, resulting in additional entrants, marketing advice, and schedule coordination. On the technical front, we have profited hugely through tapping in to the pool of skilled race officials,” said San Martin.
Although details remain to be worked out, all delegates agreed on the concept of on-line regatta registration that would allow skippers to register their boats once and then choose the Caribbean regattas in which to compete, and on sponsoring joint marketing efforts outside of the Caribbean.
The four largest Caribbean regattas, Antigua, BVI, St. Maarten, and St.Thomas are committed to working together to improve the race management and marketing of all Caribbean regattas. Bob Phillips, chairman of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, said, “It is important that we work together to improve the quality of the racing experience throughout the Caribbean; while we have the finest sailing conditions in the world and spectacular scenery, our target customers are sophisticated international competitors who also expect top level race management.”
Other topics discussed included regatta management, sponsorship, importance of good race officers, judges and other key personnel, an integrated rating and scoring system and the future of the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA).
The idea that spurred the most interest was the development of a Caribbean Racing series, which would include as many regattas as possible in the Caribbean. This series might follow the model of the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series, comprised of events along the US east coast and the Caribbean, and allow owners the option of picking and choosing regattas in which they would compete.
Representing the Caribbean Sailing Association, Cary Byerley said, “A Caribbean racing series would provide a marketing tool for all of us and an incredible opportunity for a major sponsor.” Patrick Sikorski, executive marketing agent from Force 10 Marketing, the company that markets the World Match Racing Tour (formally the Swedish Match Tour), agreed and indicated that a Caribbean racing series would be very attractive to sponsors and could boost the profile of all the Caribbean events.
Before the group disbanded, they decided that if ideas were to be seen through to fruition, the conference should become an annual event.
“The personal networking during these events is terrific – it’s the only chance this group of hard-working individuals has to share—at regattas they’re always working!” said San Martin.
Although dates are not set, CSA may hold the conference next year in Antigua. Local hosts will have their work cut out for them—Claudia Silvestri and Tony Torres of Casa de Campo reportedly provided excellent accommodations, food, and entertainment. As one delegate said, “Casa de Campo will be a hard act to follow.”
Editor’s note: Casa de Campo Yacht Club will host its first major regatta in February—for more information, www.casadecampoyachtclub.com.
Conference report and photo of Casa de Campo Yacht Club provided courtesy of CSA