American Ryan Breymaier announced a marketing and sponsorship opportunity that is in search of a company seeking international reach. The program would begin in early 2016 and include exposure at three key singlehanded IMOCA (Open 60) events.
The plan begins in May with the ‘Transat’, a race from England to New York; the ‘New York- Les Sables’ race which takes the fleet back to France; and the around the world ‘Vendee Globe Race’ which starts from Les Sables-d’Olonne in November and returns by February.
Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck checked in with Ryan for an update…
Do you currently have an IMOCA (Open 60)?
Not currently. 2016 is a Vendee Globe year so all the boats are going through the final fine-tuning to get ready for the race in a few months. That being said, there are still one or two slim options out there, hence my remaining optimism. The options open to me are not going to win the race, but they’re still proven solid boats and worth racing.
How are you working together with the event organizers?
IMOCA is the body that governs the Open 60 class, and is essentially run by skippers. It makes all the technical decisions regarding the boats. Open Sports Management (OSM) was created two years ago to take over the promotion of the class. OSM put together the schedule and chose the races that will make up the circuit. Their main mission is to bring the class to an international audience. As I am an American, both IMOCA and OSM are very keen I participate and bring the racing to a US audience.
Are you looking for an American sponsor?
I’m looking for a sponsor of any nationality really! However, I’d say the French market is pretty saturated with all the French skippers, and being American, I feel it only natural that I represent and promote an American brand. The project would really make sense to an American brand with strong ties in Europe, and France in particular.
The Vendee Globe in 2012 accumulated more media than the Tour de France bike race, so it’s an attractive product. Imagine every evening, after the national news at 8pm, the presenter finishes with a line on the Vendee Globe progress throughout the three months of racing. It’s incredible but true!
Where does the sponsor’s ROI come from?
The sponsor’s ROI can come from a number of avenues and each IMOCA sponsor has a different mode of operation.
Safran (French military contractor) sponsors a team for the technical aspect. They have engineers who get involved with the development of the boat. Team sponsor Hugo Boss doesn’t seem to care so much for race results, but they do care for YouTube clicks when their skipper Alex Thomson jumps off the mast of the boat. Ask anyone who doesn’t know sailing about the guy who walked on the keel of his boat and they will know about it.
With Veolia and Roland Jourdain, in which I had some involvement, there was a lot of internal communication. Roland did a lot of talking at the various Veolia locations about teamwork and we sailed regularly with VIP guests. When MACIF, an insurance company, won the Vendee Globe, they made bank with the unprecedented media coverage they received.
It just depends on what the sponsor’s requirements are, and then a plan is put together. It differs from corporation to corporation and the importance is to listen to what people want and deliver it.
How important is being one of the top finishing teams?
To me, being one of the top finishing teams is the most important thing of all! I am out there to race after all. However, you can’t forget this is a mechanical sport. You’re not going to win the Indy 500 without the best machine, and to go down that road requires significant funding that comes early.
For a 2016 project, there’s no longer time to build a new boat, but this doesn’t mean I can’t provide an excellent campaign in the short term. What I can provide is a chance for a company to be at the forefront of ocean racing for a relatively cheap price on very short notice. It’s the ideal ‘taster’ for a corporation looking to do something completely different and not wanting to commit long term without testing the waters first.
You had been involved in a record-setting project with Lending Club. What was that sponsor’s mission?
With Lending Club, our principal wanted to give his employees the chance to go sailing, and we did just that with 95% of the company getting out on the boat and racing under the Golden Gate Bridge. We’re here to show what a versatile platform these boats can really be.
Time is really short, isn’t it?
Yes absolutely, but it’s possible, though we need to be quick! The fact is 2016 is a bumper year for IMOCA racing and for the USA. The schedule offers the opportunity to showcase a brand with physical presence in three countries (UK, USA, and France) plus participate in the pinnacle of ocean racing, the Vendee Globe, being without a doubt more important to the French general public than the Volvo Ocean race and the America’s Cup put together. Let’s hope there’s someone out there who agrees with me and who wants to give it a shot!