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Sailing takes centre stage this week - MarineBusinessWorld Oceania newsletter

by Peter Rendle 24 Nov 2022 15:00 PST
Yacht Racing Forum / Design & Technology Symposium in Malta © Rick Tomlinson / Yacht Racing Forum

As we approach the summer sailing season with the Rolex Sydney-Hobart just six weeks away, the focus is on sailing this week. And we begin with the Yacht Racing Forum. 250 delegates from 23 nationalities representing the sports' leading corporations and events attended the Forum in Malta for two days of conferences, presentations, networking and business.

What is the state of the sport following two years of disruption? How can its status, visibility and commercial attractiveness be improved? What will be the future of the sport, both from a technological and commercial point of view? These are some of the questions that industry leaders sought to answer over the two days conference at the Yacht Racing Forum / Design & Technology Symposium in Malta.

The participants' concerns as well as hot topics have clearly evolved over the years. 2022 speakers discussed youth access to the sport, the commercial potential of sailing and the impact of the new Olympic classes on media coverage. But they also explained how the sport can benefit from blockchain technology and detailed some legal implications of the pandemic. Blockchain and Covid - two words that didn't exist three years ago.

The largest marine trade show in the world concluded last week and Mark Jardine attended the show and compiled a number of interviews. Mark, Managing Editor of and, spoke to Yanmar's Igor van de Burgt, Application Engineer, Engineering and Development, and Bas Eerden, Global Sales Manager, about the development of e-saildrive [see video], scheduled for launch in 2024.

Mark also talked with Jake Keilman and Todd Wilson of Vakaros at METSTRADE about the small, but incredibly powerful, Atlas 2 sailing instrument [see video].

Staying with sailing, Australian Sailing CEO Ben Houston has been named as a finalist for the Australian Institute of Sport's Award for Leadership at the 2022 AIS Sport Performance Awards (ASPAs). The ASPAs return after a Covid-impacted lay-off in 2021, and will celebrate the incredible achievements of Australian high-performance athletes and sports in 2022.

Houston has been recognised for his contribution to the Australian sports sector and for his role in leading Australian Sailing through the impacts of the pandemic, whilst also delivering the organisation's 10-year strategic plan, 'SAILING 2032'. He is also the President of Commonwealth Games Australia, who have partnered with the Victorian Government to bring the Commonwealth Games back to Australia and to host the Commonwealth Games in Regional Victoria in 2026.

Weather conditions along the East Coast of Australia have not been amiable recently. Floods occurring in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria have displaced thousands of people and the clean up will take months to complete, with the accompanying costs. The Boating Industry Association (BIA) today welcomed news that the SA Government has committed to a $51.6 million initial financial assistance package for River Murray communities, households and businesses who will be affected by large-scale flooding.

BIA President Andrew Fielding said the SA Government announcement was appreciated by the boating industry which includes the important Houseboat Hirers Association division in SA and other related marine businesses. "On behalf of the industry in South Australia, I offer our thanks to the State Government which is funding this support program," Fielding said.

"The impacts of flood water on the Murray River system is putting boating industry members and commercial houseboat operators under considerable stress now, and this will continue for months to come until the flood subsides and infrastructure is re-instated."

Further North in Queensland, powerboat builder Riviera has again been internationally recognised for its training program, jointly winning the "Best Apprenticeship or Training Scheme" category at the prestigious annual world Boat Builder Awards held in the Amsterdam National Maritime Museum in the Netherlands this week.

Chair of Boat Builder Awards judging panel Ed Slack announced that Riviera Australia and Sunseeker International jointly were awarded "for their long-standing nurturing of apprentices and graduates, contributing greatly to the skilled workforces of their companies and regions. "Our congratulations to everyone who entered and especially to those who were honoured this evening," said Mr Slack.

And even further North, in Hong Kong, Pearl Yachts has reached an agreement with VP Yachts to represent the British brand in Hong Kong. This latest step in the expansion of Pearl's dealer network sees a first dealership into Asia, in the legendary yachting city. Following the premiere of the Pearl 72 at FLIBS, Pearl Yachts has marked another important milestone with the announcement of this new partnership.

VP Yachts, based in Hong Kong and directed by Vivian Chan, is the newest Pearl Dealer. She has opened a window for the brand into the Far East, through the most strategic city, and with the support of a boating dynasty. In addition to their professional, yet modern, approach VP Yachts stood out for their impressive shipyard, located centrally in Hong Kong main harbor.

With Christmas approaching and providing the usual warm up to the festive season, news of a Christmas boating event has reached us. Seafarers and spectators alike are invited to set sail on Brisbane's newest Christmas tradition, the Northshore Christmas Boat Parade on Sunday 18 December. Experience a Christmas lights display like no other when the iconic Brisbane River lights up with a glittering cavalcade of illuminated boats parading the length of Northshore Brisbane to a soundtrack of Christmas classics and merry hits.

Visitors of all ages are expected to line the riverbank and enjoy thrilling onshore entertainment including helicopter flyover, Christmas markets, live bands, roving performance artists and Flipside Circus displays to complement the dazzling on-water parade. The free event begins at 4pm with live music, food trucks, festive celebrations and competitions with the Northshore Christmas Boat Parade starting at 6.45pm, the bedazzled boats parading a circuit of the Northshore riverfront until 8pm.

Stay safe,
Peter Rendle -

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