Saturday, March 25, 2006

Turning Tide

Ellen's off again! Not on her own this time, but sailing a fully crewed B&Q, off to break records on the Asian Record Circuit.

It's a shame, for we don't have a chance to wave her off from some British port and watch her head off into the Atlantic.

There seems to be more action in the waters of the Far East at the moment - with the Clipper fleet also re-starting from the Philippines.

But like so much of sailing today, race organisers must take into account the needs of sponsors, who are more and more likely to come from Asia. Sailing in Britain has rarely broken the mainstream - with Ellen being nearly the sole exception.

In the past it was the Whitebread, before the cost rose and the brewing company asked what's in it for them when it's customers were mostly football fans, not sailing fans. So now its the Volvo, and there's only a stop-over in Portsmouth, not the start and the finish.

There are also greater global forces at work. Recently Britain was surpassed by China who's GDP grew to become the world's fourth largest. With a booming economy comes demand for luxuries like yachts and a need to gain the publicity that sailing can bring.

And not just in China. LG of South Korea must have pleased by its sponsorship of the last but one Global Challenge, when its boat dominated the race and caught the attention of at least this techy buyer.

There are a billion Chinese and only 60 million Brits. The universities of both of India and China educate more engineers each year than all of those in Europe in total. We better get used to it.

After all China was once a great sailing nation - remember the fleets of Admiral Zheng He.

Picture from

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