Cash grants handed out at International Sailing Summit

AMSTERDAM - The 7th International Sailing Summit, held November 14 and hosted by Amsterdam RAI in conjunction with METS, brought together sailing and industry leaders from 16 countries for a full day of seminars, presentations and networking opportunities, according to a statement today from organizers.

“Once again, we were extremely pleased by the caliber of presentations and of attending participants,” said ISS founder and Chairman Alistair Murray of Ronstan. “There was an excellent mix of events and presentations, and everyone walked away highly motivated and encouraged by how sailing is being promoted globally.”

For the first time in the event's history, a cash grant of U.S. $4000 was awarded to the presentation that best reflected the ISS theme of how “The Sailing Industry and Sailors Work Together to Sailing Wins.”

Axel Grael of Brazil took home the inaugural award for his national initiative that began with his high profile family who has won numerous Olympic medals, with Torben Grael currently skippering the country's first entry in the Volvo Around the World Race. The family had the vision that sailing could be more accessible to the public and benefit youth with social needs. To this end, they gathered sailors, sport and education specialists along with environmentalists in 1996 to consider how boating could be used as an educational tool. Hence, the “Grael Project” was born in 1998 in Rio de Janeiro with the support of the municipal government and has since expanded to include centers in Vitoria and Espirito. To date, more than 4500 participants have sailed through this program, which is now managed by the not-for-profit Instituto Rumo Nautico (IRN).

A second award of U.S. $1000 was also presented to John Arndt for his outstanding “Summer Sailstice” initiative that encourages people around the world to sail together on one particular day to celebrate sailing.

A diverse line-up of speakers

Additional programs included Andrew Webster's UK Industry Regatta, a direct development from a previous ISS event; San Francisco's Jay Palace's “Big Team Regattas,” which bring corporations in to support community sailing; Chris Satchwell of the UK who spoke about the Sunsail charter experience; Theirry Wibaux of the French Nautical Federation who updated the crowd on the French sailing school initiative of modernizing fleets; George Bonelli of SailTime based out of Austin, TX who shared the success of fractional sailing; and Thom Dammrich of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, who addressed the US $15 million Grow Boating campaign.

Julian Bethwaite, Australian designer of the 49er, challenged the audience with his revolutionary ideas on the use of technology, excitement, fashion and different events to make sailing more appealing to youth, the media and the public. ISS Patron Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, in his opening remarks, strongly encouraged that the industry produce “boating shows” vs. boat shows, so that the focus is on the activity and not the product. Phil Draper of IBI Magazine presented the IBI Report on sailboat production worldwide.

One of the event highlights was the sponsorship panel which featured representatives from corporate sponsors such as Skandia, Louis Vuitton, Fast Track and BMW Oracle, all of whom agreed that their most important consideration is the long-term value of the investment and the imagery offered vs. short-term financial returns/gain. Keynote presenters Mark Turner and Bruno Trouble shared passionate presentations about Ellen McArthur and the America's Cup. Turned described how Ellen McArthur's fame is directly translating into a major boost in sailing interest in the UK which is now “at an all time high.” Trouble discussed the unprecedented level of interest in the America's Cup, with it being held in Europe for the first time.

Future International Sailing Summit dates are underway including confirmed plans for May '07 in Valencia, Spain and December '08 in Paris, France.

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