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QUANTUM RACING - Too much branding or Okay
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The Publisher

Oct 27, 2008, 3:58 PM

Post #1 of 4 (9781 views)
QUANTUM RACING - Too much branding or Okay Log-In to Post/Reply

(October 27, 2008) The topic here involves advertising on boats. The ISAF Advertising Code allows for races to be run under either Category A (no advertising) or Category C (advertising permitted with some restriction). The most prevalent examples have been in the Americasí Cup or the around the world races, but boat sponsorship can trickle down as far as a one design class or an event permits.

Lately, various race results include teams named Quantum Racing, with the boats being branded after the sailmaker they receive support from. Amid the TP 52 circuit in Europe, and the Melges 24 racing in the U.S., you will find successful teams named Quantum Racing. The question is whether there is any difference between a boat being branded after a sailmaker and a boat being branded after a non-marine entity.

Will PUMA have demonstrated they have better shoes if Ken Readís team wins the Volvo Ocean Race? Not likely, but PUMA certainly hopes to leverage the marketing opportunities of the race to better expose their brand. Now exchange PUMA with Quantum Racing, and shoes with sails. Much like the old line about chickens and pigs, and their respective relationships with ham-and-egg breakfasts; it's a parable on the differences between involvement and commitment. The chicken, of course, is involved, but the pig? He's committed.

The history of all sailmakers supporting racing teams is long, most notably in one design classes. Sometimes it is the companyís boat, and sometimes it is not. Either way, the purpose, at least in part, is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the sails. Good results donít always equate to selling sails, but bad results make for a rocky sales pitch.

This week at the Melges 24 North Americans, if you didnít know that Terry Hutchinsonís team was supported by Quantum Sails, the Quantum Racing boat name will dispatch any doubt. For those following the event online, the teamís sponsor will be quickly evident. So how do you feel about this? Here is the reply when people were asked how they felt about a sponsored sailmaking team's boat also being fully branded:

  • It makes no difference to me. - 32.51%
  • I am glad they are branding themselves. - 33.50%
  • I wish it was more subtle. - 9.36%
  • I am not pleased with the trend. - 24.63%

  • The Publisher

    Oct 27, 2008, 4:00 PM

    Post #2 of 4 (9776 views)
    Re: [The Publisher] QUANTUM RACING - Too much branding or Okay [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

    These comments were made from the poll voters:

    ∑ It would be ridiculous to think that sponsorship is not a great thing for bringing our sport into the international spotlight.

    ∑ The US is pretty much the only country where this would even raise an eyebrow. We have been WAY behind on sponsorship. As a result, we are a decided second or third tier county in world sailing.

    ∑ I'm a regular J24 club racer who can do well sometimes and am working to figure this sport out. Itís always nice to know who the big boys are. Itís a lot more fun to know who they are so when you are sailing side by side with them you know how you are doing for point and speed. We also learn by their tacticts, so I say go ahead lets see who you are, it makes it a lot more fun!!!

    ∑ In classes that market themselves to amateurs I do not believe their is a place for advertising. I donít want to play in a fleet where competitors donít pay the same costs to play either through sponsorship or personally owned businesses that use tax deductable dollars.

    ∑ Leave the pros to the Americaís Cup and Volvo type races that are all professional to start with.

    ∑ Sailmakers - boatbuilders - mast makers - should be excluded from advertising. Insurance companies - Financial coís - shoe companies - OK

    ∑ Get real - do you realistically know how much it costs to campaign one of these boats for 1 season. Good on Quantum for taking the leap and having the balls to do it.

    ∑ Having sailed in the Star Class (and now Etchells) for most of my racing life (always as an amateur), I accept professionalism among the people I race against as a given. Am I envious? You bet! I wish I had the resources, time and commitment that the professionals have. I wonder how well I might have done if I had had these resources. At the same time, Iím not sure how comfortable I would be being under the pressure of having to do well in order to move product -- or simply get another helming/crewing job. That must be a heavy burden. ĎMan who makes hobby his business, have no recreation.í (Ancient Chinese proverb!) I feel more favorably toward the true professionals than I do the Ďamateur professionalí teams, such as Phillipe Kahnís fleet of Pegasus competitors. These folks donít even have to worry about representing a product. ĎHereís a great boat and some money. Now just go out there and sail faster than the other guys!í Some life!

    ∑ I would strongly suggest that ANY boat that is sponsored by ANYONE be required to carry brand advertising. That way, itíll be obvious when an amature wins that they are NOT pros, they are not on the take, they have come back from a massive disadvantage to win. Also, itíll be very clear who the pros are and who the amatures are. At the least, put a big scarlett ĎAí on the sales of the professional boats for ĎAdvertisingí.

    ∑ Advertising is in direct conflict with the Corinthian spirit of the sport. Naming a boat after a corporation is a blatant cynical attempt to corrupt the attempts to limit its influence.

    ∑ Bring Ďem on.
    ∑ The premise is unclear. Naming a boat (Ďbrandingí is a lot more than just a name) should be considered advertising. The lead-in article makes it unclear whether this is in a regatta where advertising is allowed or not.

    ∑ If we are Ďnot pleasedí with the activities of the corporate sponsors who increase our sportís mass market exposure through their very sponsorships, how can we bemoan our sportís lack of mass market exposure? Is it the sponsorship visibility that is at issue, or the edge provided by sponsorship dollars, in terms of better equipped/trained teams. Either way, it looks like progress for our sport.

    ∑ If youíre fast people will notice. They had a very good season. While winning though Quantum TP52 has comes across as rather pompous and arrogant.

    ∑ Let sailmakers and other marine industry companys advertise/sponsor in the Ďbig boyí professional circuts but keep sailing honest at the other levels.

    ∑ Cortinthian spirit comes to mind, besides, that Q looks like a big fat zero.

    ∑ Good on them. Competition in the market place is always good.

    ∑ It is a free market, and has been going on in one form or another for over a century. Lipton used the AC to sell Tea into the States, by being the great looser, I do not think he lost at all, as you get Lipton lea all over the States, yet it is hard to find here in Scotalnd.

    ∑ Itís not the advertising itís the money that is put into a campaign that may give them the advantage over all of the Joe the sailorís out there.

    ∑ why should money spent by a sailmaker be any different than money spent by another sponsor.if you donít like the trend ban all advertising.

    ∑ Sailing is a sport for participants, not for spectators.

    ∑ It is also not a business for the participants. There are by far too many people on the water who want someone else to pay for their pleasure. It is not too long ago that these Ďpaid handsí would not be allowed through the front door of my club, but had to use the side entrance.

    ∑ Why would I buy sails from a company that is on the water competing against me?

    ∑ Iím glad they are supporting the sport, but it furthers the gap between the haves and the have nots.

    ∑ At the TP52/Grand Prix level - who cares? If it starts getting down to the Club-Prix level, it affects me and most I know. Melges24 gets into a grey area... if they start branding Optiís, we have a serious problem...

    ∑ Letís get serious, without financial support, how many serious international (even national) classes will be able to coninue?

    ∑ We are headed that at a quickening pace in the US and it is not a bad trend. We are well behind the rest of the world in this situation and they are not going back to the Ďold waysí. It is a class decision to race cat A or Cat C and there is some control there.

    ∑ Once again we see the thin edge of the wedge where greed and sportsmanship get confused.

    ∑ As with any other industry, you become readily apparent about where your money is being spent. Do I want to have my $$ being spent on a pro crew with top notch boat bent on beating me at my own game? Its a tough call but in the end, its necessary as long as sail development is being performed. If they are out their for the sole purpose of advertising, then sponsor the regatta and give away a few sets of sails. Its a bit blatant and shouldnít be allowed in the under $1M classes.

    ∑ Is sailing turning into Nascar or what? The trend for sponsorship is moving down from the pro classes to the recreational classes. Just like big Nascar teams helping local hot shoes at the lower classes in car racing. Not a good thing.

    ∑ We aready have NASCAR with those idiot looking ball caps,drivers swallowing a bottle of Gator Aid at the end of the race when we know they would really rather have a Budweiser

    ∑ I wonder how available the information gleaned from the company sponsored boats is to the privateers using their sails?

    ∑ Once the Corinthian spirit is broken, whether the advertising is marine-related or not, and whether the message is on a sail or a boat name, I feel it is the same.

    ∑ Our entire society is built on advertising, which leads to sponsorships. Though certainly Ďpure sportí in the 19th Century tradition would be preferable to us traditionalists, we must recognize that sailing is just following the trend of current life.

    ∑ bad bad bad, the keeping the pros off our race coures would be so much better for racing. itís getting so expensive to race at competitive level and itís because the sail makers and pros are making that way to get into our wallets.

    ∑ It doesnít matter to me that itís a sailmaker. North has provided plenty of professional support to teams for a long time. I donít really like the entire trend of branded boats - heavily financed and looking like floating billboards. Doesnít matter that itís Quantum.

    ∑ At the very least branding clearly identifies the support that goes on, branded or not.

    ∑ When you beat them....itís makes it all the better.

    ∑ In Canada - Hans Fogh /North Fogh Sails - raced his Soling with his sails and everbody tried to beat him .. often using his sails - John (JC) Clark multiple winner of Shark events - uses his own sails - and so do many others .. I donít here a lot of complaining .. the branding isnít / wasnít all over the boat - but everyone knew who the driver was and who built the sails !!! gregory scott

    ∑ Itís going to get so that itís all professional and races will h;ave to be separated that way. I donít think it will do much for racing as a whole. But who knows? Look at golf!!!

    ∑ North Sails in THE dominant sailmaker in Grand Prix racing without a doubt. In order to make a dent in that, Quantum needed to step up their exposure. Luckily for them, they won. If they had won with a boat called Windquest, for example, the general racing public may not have blinked an eye at the sail brancd.They have just as much of a right to advetise as any non-sailing industry company. Iím a North customer, but good for Quantum for stepping it up.

    ∑ Iím not happy about the creeping commercialism, but I wish we still used white [doesnít need to be Egyptian cotton] sails. Hate tanbark.

    ∑ Sponsorship = more dollars & opportunities to for wanta be pros to be able to afford to attend regattas.

    ∑ When you buy North Sails (3DL or One Design) you get exactly the same sails as the Pros. I donít think that happens with Quantum.

    ∑ they do it in auto racing and many other sports

    ∑ why not sailing but dont over do it

    ∑ Allís fair in love, war and marketing: Quantum has a very long road to walk to beat the big guy: North Sails. I think this is excellent strategy and I also think the graphics are superior. To me itís really wonderful to see the colorful boats racing either closed course or on the high seas: look at the VOR boats: lifts my heart!

    ∑ If I wanted a ĎBillboardí I would put it on a busy just gives the version of an add and I think it looks Ďtrasheyí on a boat....I donít care for the new trend...maybe Iím just old fashioned...or just old....

    ∑ I feel it adds to the sport, and gives even the local racers a chance to get some visibility. All of the sports Iíve done have had a chance to get Ďfactory sponsorshipí. I would love to be able to have help with my costs.

    ∑ Why should the support of a sailmaker be any different than that of a bank or insurance company? It is like BMW putting their name on a Formula One race car. In fact, it is actually refreshing to have a sailmaker be so up front and put there own money into product development instead of allowing their customerís to fund testing.

    ∑ that TP52 sure looks sweet

    ∑ I couldnít run my 12 foot skiff without sponsors - let them be as visible as they desire!

    The Publisher

    Nov 7, 2008, 8:50 AM

    Post #3 of 4 (9515 views)
    Re: [The Publisher] QUANTUM RACING - Too much branding or Okay [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

    From Benjamin Jarashow:

    In certain classes (I can specifically think of the Stars, Etchells, J/24, and Melges 24), most competitors I know of do LIKE to compete against pros - interestingly, of those classes, they span the range of Advertising allowance..... The Melges class is a good microcosm, I think, of allowing sponsorship, which makes it easier to field a professional team, which keeps the level of competition very high, which keeps interest for competitors, viewers watching an event, and other prospective sponsors. An upward spiral, hopefully. That said, I do seem to recall many discussions over the years about how to tread that fine line. The Melges 24 classí embracement of the "Corinthian division" seems to be effective presently.

    My understanding is that sponsorship is more prevalent in Europe, for various reasons - one is simply that sponsorship is more accepted a practice across the board there. The branding on sports team jerseys, billboards, etc. is much more obvious and obnoxious - but it's what they are used to (as opposed to the backlash against banks buying naming rights on stadiums here). I have been led to believe that the tax codes are friendlier to corporations spending money for sport than is the case here.

    The sailboat racing world is going to divide up into classes that people want to sail - every owner wants something different for his or her racing experience. Part of that decision right now includes whether the owner wants to race in a class where pros are allowed, or sponsorship is allowed, etc. Once part of a class, they are part of the membership which, generally speaking, gets to be a part of the decision if the class wants to change its regulation. In the case of the handicap classes, they are generally handled locally - your local PHRF-board, or Yacht Club may choose whether IT wants to allow these things. Owners that travel to Key West know what they are getting into, and they may certainly choose to go to some other event where there are Category A advertising rules, instead of Cat. C. They'll probably spend less money to go to some other event anyway. If a grass-roots team wants a certain racing experience that includes no pros and no advertising, there are classes like the J/105 that are very successful classes with close racing and lots of boats.

    So, while my politics are generally not conservative, so to speak, sailboat racing is one place where I believe in letting the market take its course....... Nobody needs to quit sailing because of sponsorship or professionals - there are classes they can go to. Racing sailing in this way already does cater to all racing sailors. Artificially limiting sponsorship, as the United States in the interests of "Corinthianism" has been done for far too long, is inherently detrimental to the expansion of the sport. Because sponsorship, whether it is of events or individuals does put money directly into the sport that puts more competitors on the water, which is arguably what everyone is looking for?

    Or is it? If we look back say 20 years, we would find fewer competitors, people buying sails less often, fairing their hulls less often, and spending less on the sport to compete. At some point an arms race began, where everyone wanted to do well instead of just have a good time, and people started spending more money, including spending money to hire professional sailors. More people racing, more people wanting to do well, and costs skyrocket. Sponsorship comes about because now there are enough sailors that there is a return on investment for sponsorship dollars. Sponsorship goes to the people who are doing well, and they simply get more money to spend to go fast.

    An additional tick to why cost have gone up in the sport is the movement to windward-leeward courses, which puts a higher premium on crew-work and boat preparation (sails & hull), now that we are firmly in the era of "scientific sailing" that we all believe we can accurately predict the wind-shifts all the way around the course and that there is one "right" way to sail. That view is exacerbated by the level of college sailing continuing to climb. Ability levels ARE higher, and expectations of performance have climbed with that. Yet, the entry level sailor's ability has not kept pace - making life rather discouraging for many new, inexperienced, or less committed racers. They tend to not come back. So, if we went back to a time when there were fewer people against which to compete, would we need to spend less? I'm just not sure we can close that Pandoraís Box.....

    So why say that all of the three options presented are bad ones? I think we can see that the argument that an owner needs to quit sailing is not really supported. They can, in fact switch classes. If they want to compete in a 'pro class', they can choose to do so without pros or sponsors, and there are many teams in those classes that do in fact sail quite well without as much money spent. There are others who simply like racing at the highest levels enough that they genuinely don't care if they take home pickle dishes. Otherwise, you'd never see 50 or 80 J/24s or Melges 24s on the starting line. So, that option is certainly viable for many people. So who 'needs' sponsorship? Someone who wants to win, but has no money or talent? I'm sorry, but that argument simply does not cut it. Again, if you are getting into a class, you get in knowing what you're up against. If money is the problem, there are ways around that, including partnerships, having the crew help pay their own way (talk about something that not enough teams do), and, yes, finding sponsors. But for an owner to complain that they 'have' to find a sponsor to go racing is disingenuous, IMO.

    As said before, sponsor dollars are about ROI. So, more people sailing equates to a higher likelihood of sponsor involvement. Sailors seeing sponsorship growth is one of the ways that we can immediately see if the sport as a whole is growing. That is why people do equate sponsorship with success for the sport. So, again, do we want fewer people racing?

    Honestly, we already have fewer people racing than we did 10 or 15 years ago. See the thoughts about what discourages inexperienced racers. But the question of sponsorship, and it's relation to the questions of Corinthianism and Professionalism in the sport, are simply facets of the many changes that have occurred in the sport over its recent history. The following changes have also been argued to 'bring down' the sport at various times, by various people: 1. the rise in prevalence of 'sportboats - they are hard to rate, 2. the rise in prevalence of sportboats - you can't sleep aboard, 3. the rise in price of petroleum-based products, 4. the lack of free time in the average American's work-week, 5. the complication of the rules, 6. the lack of community boating opportunities, 7. the prevalence of W-L racing making it to hard to ease into learning to sail. I'm sure I can come up with more.....

    So, the question should not be: Is sponsorship a BAD THING in the sport of sailboat racing? The question should be: How do we turn what already exists in the sport too our advantage? For example, I am in favor of higher regatta fees for sponsored teams - heck, in classes where sponsorship is encouraged, raise the fees for everyone: Take Melges 24's - if the fees were increased, but not for Corinthian teams, the regattas would have more money to throw a better event, and Corinthian teams would get direct benefit from sponsorships of competitors. Also, knowing what companies already sponsor teams and events, enterprising sailors might go to these companies with business proposals, Tax-deductible investments such as community boating centers, etc. We already know these companies know enough about the sport to have invested some money - maybe more in a different venue of sailing would be viable.

    As to the specific question of: Should a sailing industry company invest in advertising dollars on a sailing team? Don't kid yourself. There are industry teams at every level of sailing that allows professionals. J/24s, Melges 24s, Mumm 30s and Farr 40s have always had industry representatives sailing in the classes specifically for the purpose of promoting their brand. Just because the teams are not always named "Team XX Racing" is no matter - sailors know who's who, and if they don't they can look at any advertisement for XX brand to find out how many championships were won using those parts. Every gear manufacturer from winches to foulies has their logo on it, and line manufacturers would sew their name into the braid if they could. At least by putting the name in HUGE letters on the side of the boat, Quantum Racing is up front about who benefits if the advert works.


    Nov 9, 2008, 3:17 PM

    Post #4 of 4 (9420 views)
    Re: [The Publisher] QUANTUM RACING - Too much branding or Okay [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

    I express my own views in this reply.

    One aspect of sailing where sponsorship has been active within amateur and professional sailing for decades is windsurfing. Sails are often decorated with the logos of the brands who make it possible for each sailor to compete on a regular basis. In most cases, rigs are purchased separately from the boards and, therefore, do not show a class or board brand logo as would normally be the case for traditional sailboats. A Sonar sail usually boasts the Sonar logo toward the sail's head. Not the case in windsurfing except for one-design class gear, like the RS:X

    Local racers often connect with a windsurfing shop and display the shop logo on their sails. Perhaps an upwardly mobile competitor displays the logos of their wetsuit, mast and fin sponsors. I'm unaware of any significant faction of windsurfing racers who object to branding. In fact, those who might ordinarily feel opposed to advertising are those who appreciate that advertising is the only vehicle they have to attract outside support for their own racing habit.

    Advertising and branding has proved a welcome aspect in our corner of sailing.
    -Dan Weiss
    Director, US Windsurfing
    Northeast Region

    Member, U.S. Sailing Windsurfing Task Force

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