Caribbean Regattas

Courtesy of St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

Dear All At Sea,

The essence of Caribbean Regattas: The ‘Shared Experienced’ and how events may use it to create marketing success.

Go sailing by yourself in Caribbean waters and you will likely enjoy it. But create a situation in which you can share the experience and the joy, on your own boat and with others, and you will enjoy it even more. This, essentially, is what drives Caribbean regattas. And is why the party after the regatta is so important to the event, and why these parties have such great energy. This core concept should be the basis of designing and managing regattas and other marine events.

Those who, by profession or as a volunteer, are in the business of organizing regattas in the Caribbean should hold to the core concept of sharing the experience and in doing so they could employ some of the following principles and techniques:

Build up the anticipation of the event by drawing attention to developments, particularly related to participation as the other participants are the ‘shared attraction’. Thanks to the Internet this is much easier than it was in the past. Many regattas are already doing this by sharing images of the committed and ‘expressions of interest’.

Right before the event create moments that help build the anticipation, moments that remind the ‘planned participants’ how good these events can be – something to get the juices flowing.

Videos and photos of the experience and their consequent sharing are key contents.

Schedule events that will allow participants to relive and share the experience right after the event … It may not be realistic to get everybody into the same party, but a good location will drive traffic to the event and increase opportunities for chance meetings and interaction.

Parties exclusively for captains or owners do not work. The Voile de St Barth has been innovative in creating an interaction opportunity with breakfast on the dock for instance. Antigua is scoring with a daily prize giving, where the casual interaction after racing is likely to drive the event forward more than the value of the prizes.

Write press releases that include references to common experiences, even though you have to focus substantially on the winners and other necessary content. There are professional writers who understand this concept as well as the technical and commercial components of regatta events. They are an undervalued part of a regatta team. The content of press communications should be related to the content of banter at and after race parties!

Assist in sharing information about participants that will increase the chances of online interaction between the sailors and enhance the experience in this manner.

Design the event around a particular interest or style and level of expectation. Every location has its limitations that you may not be able to override. Focus on being the best run event within these limitations. Don’t try to be all things to all people. The successful Voile de St Barth can only be in St Barth. Don’t try to organize it in Carriacou. The Bequia regatta will not work in Charlotte Amalie. The event can help to shape the perception of a destination, but to a greater degree the event is defined by the style, culture and geography of the destination itself.

Often, Caribbean regattas have difficulty in creating an image that allows them to be taken seriously. Their image is more likely to be one of fun than of a serious nature. This, in spite of hosting extremely serious racing and, as with the RORC Caribbean 600, a very serious course as well. The effort of a sailing regatta to procure a serious image is very difficult and always likely to be challenged by the universal concept of what the Caribbean is.

When done right regatta organizers in the Caribbean can achieve many things. They can grow the sport of sailing, while at the same time playing a major positive role for their territory. Probably more importantly they can highlight their destination by creating links between pleasurable experiences both on and off the water thus contributing to the enjoyment of many.

Sincerely,
Robbie Ferron

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