This weekend, Premiere Racing, organizers of Key West Race Week, announced a new title sponsor for its marquee event, which will now bear the title, Terra Nova Trading/Yachting Key West Race Week. The event will be held January 21 to 25. Terra Nova Trading is an electronic direct access trading firm. Sailing World editor John Burnham spoke with Craig by telephone to learn more about the new arrangement.
Grand Prix Sailor: You had a record 326 boats at last years Yachting Key West Race Week yet had trouble staying in the black. Now Terra Nova Tradings been announced as your title sponsor. How important is that to continuing the event?
Peter Craig: Terra Nova Trading is very important to our Key West event. But sponsorships are one of three parts to our new business plan. We cant be soley dependent on sponsorships. Nor can we count on record fleets every year. We were fortunate to have a record fleet last year when the title sponsor position was vacant. Hence our new three-part business plan which ties in sponsorships, industry participation and new entry fees. We cant achieve long term financial stability by putting all our eggs in one basket-recent world events certainly speak to that. Fortunately, a number of players in the industry also believe in our event and have stepped up to the plate to participate in our new industry partner program.
GPS: Whats the most expensive aspect of running a regatta such as Key West?
PC: Thats a good question. Very simply, as a line item, its overhead. Premiere Racing used to be the guy youre talking to, sitting in his attic, but with a family I couldnt do that forever. Im in an office now. What I took over and what Im doing now requires staff and benefits plus copier, electricity, and all the usual office overhead. One thing weve pointed out to the owners and the industry is weve been trying to run a major international event on a one-and-a-half person staff. To go forward with our new business model-and before we can prove it a success-weve had to staff up.
GPS: How many staff?
PC: We now have 3.5 staff here and we use more and more contractors as we get closer to the event.
GPS: Is it true youre talking to the Melges Class about hosting the Worlds in January?
PC: We were approached by the class immediately after the announcement that the Lauderdale YC wasnt doing it. We were planning for a Melges class anyway, but the Worlds presents a number of hurdles to get over-for example, the class wasnt going to be on its own circle. Were working to solve those problems. Key West seems to make sense for the Worlds.
GPS: How have entries been coming in since Sept. 11?
PC: We track entries very closely year to year. To be honest we were running well ahead of last years record pace up until the 11th. Things went very quiet for the next two weeks, which didnt surprise us. In the last few business days were starting to see the entries come back.
GPS: Hows the mood among sponsors and sailors youre talking with?
PC: The Terra Nova Trading deal hadnt been signed before September 11th, and Im sure they looked at it closely; but they came to the decision that lifes got to go on and their business has to move forward and so they decided to continue. We have the same outlook, and most sailors we talk to seem to agree. We certainly havent seen anything in the way of cancellations or people letting us know they were planning to come and have decided against it. But Ill be honest; its anybodys guess what people will do.