The Dream Realised In Perth- Darren Beazley
January 13, 2012
The Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships have wrapped up after 16 days of some of the most spectacular Olympic class sailing ever seen. Perth 2011 was the Olympic qualifying event for sailing at the London 2012 Olympics and attracted enormous international interest for Western Australia.
The World Championships are staged every four years and represent the “jewel in the crown’ for the peak body of sailing, ISAF. Other than the Olympic Games, they are the most significant Event in Olympic class sailing and one of the most challenging from a logistical perspective. Ten World Championships are staged at one venue all at the same time.
When you consider these logistics involved, the success of Perth 2011 is all the more remarkable. 1200 athletes from 79 nations took part in ten World Championships staged in the remotest city in the world.
Perth 2011 involved 850 competitor boats, 250 coach boats, 120 officials’ boats, media boats, all brought in from other parts of the world and the eastern seaboard of Australia. These boats were brought in by transport companies and then had to be penned in what is already over subscribed boating market in Perth. Add to this the official spectator boats, recreational craft that went out onto the waters off Fremantle and readers will begin to appreciate some of the logistical challenges the organisers had in relation to staging this international event.
When analysing the successes and challenges of Perth 2011, it is hard to know where to start due to their scale, but the World Championships were something of which Western Australia and the sport of sailing truly benefited from.
Some of the difficulties that we as organisers encountered included the remote location of Western Australia. Even here in Australia, Perth is considered to be a very isolated city. If we consider the commercial strategy, raising funds was an enormous challenge over three years, in trying economic conditions.
In 2009, international companies in the US, UK, Europe and Malaysia were contacted to seek their support. The start of the GFC and a lack of profile of both the World Championships and the destination made this a difficult taskl with limited success. Here in Australia, the challenge was no less daunting. Most of the commercial decisions in Australia are determined in Sydney or Melbourne where the majority of head offices are based. With a population of over 22 Million in Australia (only 2.3 Million of those are in Western Australia),convincing corporations that Perth 2011 would deliver a robust return on investment required the ability to build a business case that would withstand intense scrutiny.
Marketing Perth 2011 was also a challenge to be addressed early in our strategic planning. The approach taken by Perth 2011 was a national marketing campaign designed at encouraging people to travel from the east coast to Perth, which commenced in July 2009. The full campaign commenced in July 2011 to allow people to make plans for travel to Perth in the busy Christmas period and achieving awareness and engagement via the television and direct mail campaign, with a limited budget meant that the commercial approach had to be innovative and to leverage off key partners such as Qantas and Qantas Holidays to ‘stretch’ the Perth 2011 marketing dollar.
Olympic sailing as a sport in Australia would be hardly be considered ‘mainstream’ and this fact challenged the organisers throughout the three years of operation at every level. From gaining mainstream media interest, to sponsorship acquisition, selling membership packages, and even having the two major backers in the Australia and Western Australian governments fully understand the potential of the Event itself were not easily overcome.
From an operational standpoint, just being able to deliver an Event of this size posed incredible challenges. Staging 660 races in 16 days (Perth 2011 is one of the longest sporting events in the world in terms of duration) for athletes from all over the world, with five days live on international and Australia television and with the pressure of Olympic qualification bearing down meant that Perth 2011 organisers had to be at the ‘top of their game’ to deliver.
The success of Perth 2011 has been well documented in the international media, but from the viewpoint of the organisers, we are extremely proud of the final outcomes. Key Performance Indicators were set by ISAF and the major sponsors (both Government bodies)and some of the early assessments indicate;
International Exposure – Perth 2011 has been viewed in 105 countries so far with the official film to be released at the end of the month.
Quality Television Coverage – feedback from ISAF, the Class Associations and the general public indicate that Perth 2011’s television coverage has set the benchmark for Olympic class sailing television coverage into the future.
Engagement and Inclusion – Perth 2011 brought thousands of visitors to Western Australia from October 2010 when the Test Event was staged. The economic impact is still being calculated, but when you consider that length of stay of most visitors in Western Australia at a time when the Australian dollar is so powerful against the major currencies, the investment made by the Western Australian government provided a boost for the local economy.
Social Media – Perth 2011 embarked on a social media strategy that resonated with the international audience and the web site was a spectacular success. To date 300,000 unique visitors visited the Perth 2011 web site.
Grandstand Sailing – the ability of the organisers to work with ISAF to deliver on our promise to bring sailing close into shore was a highpoint. Both weekends of competition had the grandstands overflowing with spectators and fans and the sight for the locals was one that will long live with them. There is little doubt that the sport has now attracted the attention of a whole new generation of enthusiasts.
Perth 2011 has answered the question of what is Olympic class sailing capable of delivering’ to a mainstream audience. I guess the next question is what is next for the State of Western Australia and the sport of sailing?
About Darren Beazley:
Darren Beazley is the COO of the 2011 Perth World Championships, where he is responsible for all commercial aspects of the Olympic qualifying Event, including marketing and membership, licensing and merchandise, media and communications, sponsorship sales and events and innovation.
Darren arrived at Perth 2011 from Australian Rules football, where he worked for many years in both the football operations and commercial aspects of the game. He worked with the West Australia Football Commission from 1994 – 1998 and was then recruited by the AFL to be the General Manager of the Tasmanian Football Development Foundation, where he also served as Acting Chief Executive Officer.
After three years working with Funge Systems in the USA, he returned to Western Australia and was appointed General Manager, Business Development with the West Australian Cricket Association (WACA).
In February 2005, Darren was appointed General Manager – Strategic Partnerships for the Fremantle Football Club.