Founded in 2004 by IMAGE asia (who also own all rights to the event), Six Senses Phuket Raceweek has grown each year since then. 2008 saw a record 44 yachts entered, 60 percent more than for the 2007 event. Raceweek 2008 was held from 23-27 July at Evason Phuket & Six Senses Spa, the regatta venue since day one.
Equally as impressive as the numbers was the multinational nature of the participants. Skippers or owners represented 17 countries, boats sailed up from Malaysia and Singapore to race, while crew flew in from all over the world to take part in Phuket’s low season showcase.
“Naturally, the 20 knots-plus wind helped,” said IMAGE asia’s Managing Director, Grenville Fordham, “but we were also able to lift every aspect of the event this year by putting a lot more resources – people and cash – into it.” Fordham confirmed that higher-than-ever levels of sponsorship were matched by more funds from his company.
“If we add together the cash spent and the goods and services provided by sponsors, the total cost of Raceweek this year exceeded 10m Baht,” he said, adding, “Our goal is to build Raceweek into the top yacht racing event in the region – and this year we’ve gone a long way to achieving that goal.”
Raceweek 2008 also featured the first-ever NRG Cup, a challenge exclusively for men and women in the oil & gas industries. The brainchild of Benjamin Dupal, CEO of NRG Engineering, the NRG Cup, like the Seraph Perpetual
Trophy for the regatta’s Classic boats, is set to become a firm feature in coming years.
Marketing and publicity are vital to Raceweek’s success. International media partnerships generated over 3m Baht in international print advertising and untold value in editorial coverage, while – through an international TV production and distribution deal signed by IMAGE asia – up to 140 million households worldwide will get a taste of yacht racing in Phuket’s ‘Green Season’. This approach to a regatta as a commercial entity is what make Six Senses Phuket Raceweek the most highly publicised regatta in the region.
For the 500 or so people who took part in the racing or the partying – or both – this year, the quantum leap in the quality of the event was evident.
“We’re not used to racing in this much wind in Asia,” an exhilarated Peter Ahern, Vice Commodore of Western Australia’s Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, told the organisers on Sunday evening at the Gala Prizegiving and Closing Party. Ahern’s Yo!2 wiped the board with a first in all eight IRC Racing Class 1 races.
“Thanks for a fantastic Raceweek. We look forward to the next one…” said Cunning Plan’s Rob Azzopardi. “Forget the rest,” said another participating owner. “This is absolutely the best regatta in Asia.”
According to Asia Marine’s Olivier Payen, on Asia Marine Kinnon, Raceweek was: “A great opportunity for our staff to participate... and create internal team building.” While Katsu’s Ben Copley (2nd overall in IRC Racing Class 1) described Raceweek as: “An excellent well run Regatta. Good courses, excellent race management and off water administration, great parties.”
“An excellent and extremely well organized regatta. By far the best [yet]. It would be difficult to find fault with anything,” said Mark Pescott, skipper of Twin Sharks and designer of the super-fast Firefly fleet.
“I thoroughly enjoyed [it] and will definitely be back. From my point of view one of the most exciting regattas I have been to for a long, long time,” added Roger Kingdon, owner and skipper of the Firefly Moto Inzi. Kingdon managed a third place after eight races, coming in just one point behind the tied first and second placed SEA Property and Mamba in this highly competitive one-design class.
Other class winners were Niels Degenkolw’s Phoenix (IRC Racing 2), with an all-girl hotshot crew from Denmark, Andrew de Bruin’s Awatea (Club-Charter) in its first Six Senses Phuket Raceweek, Chameleon skippered by Shane Smith (Ocean Multihull), Mark Horwood’s Charro (Racing Multihull) and Gunther Nutt’s Kerida, maintaining its unbroken record as supremo of the Classic Class
“In the five years that we’ve been running this event, I’ve never had so many people come up on the last night and congratulate us,” said an exhausted but smiling Fordham, who had forsaken shore side this year to race in the 44-boat fleet himself on Club Class entrant, Roger Harris’s Simone, gaining a third place in the series.
Participants and organisers were not the only happy folk at the Evason Phuket & Six Senses Spa regatta venue on Sunday night. Sponsors, too, lauded the event and the milestone achievement this year in raising its profile and standards – in large part due to the contribution of Title Sponsor, Six Senses Resorts & Spas.
From the sponsor’s point of view, what sets Raceweek apart from others is the attention paid to professional sponsorship management. From first contact, through signing a sponsorship agreement, until after the event winds down, sponsorship marketing consultants Paul Poole (South East Asia) Co., Ltd work with both the sponsor and the organiser to ensure that agreed benefits are delivered in full and that opportunities presented by the event are fully maximised.
The success of this approach is borne out by the support this year of significant brand names: Co-Sponsors Raimon Land, Rodenstock and Tourism Authority of Thailand, Official Suppliers Johnnie Walker Soda Mix, Mont Clair Wines and SIXT Rent-a-Car, Media Partners Asia-Pacific Boating, Asia Spa, Australasian Yachting, China Boating, CNN Traveller, Daily XPress, LP Luxury Properties, Phuket Gazette, Prestige Magazine and SEA Yachting, as well as a whole raft of local partners and supporters.