Sail America talks with Mitch Perkins, Sail America's sales director for Strictly Sail Pacific about the sailing industry, boat shows, and America's Cup.
How long have you worked in the sailing industry?
I've been working in the sailing industry since 1986. Funny, I grew up in an agricultural, non-sailing culture in Mercer, California, sailing a Hobie Cat on a small lake. I worked for a hometown publication and saw an ad [for a sales rep at Latitude 38] and went for it. I wanted to expand my horizons. Miraculously I got the job. I worked there for years. I loved the magazine, love the industry.
What kind of boat do you own or have you owned?
Over the years, I've had several boats in partnership with other guys. After I left the magazine, I sold my shares and now tend to join John Arndt [advertising/associate publisher for Latitude 38] in beercan races through Corinthian Yacht Club [in San Francisco, California].
When did you join Sail America and why?
Sail America was looking for a west coast rep for Strictly Sail Pacific. I was recommended and [former Sail America executive director] Jonathan Banks hired me. Since then, the show has really grown and expanded. This year, we partnered with the South West International Boat Show [in Texas, March 21–24, 2013], which is great.
Can you define that relationship for us?
Sail America was asked to bring a sailing component to the South West International Boat Show. Bob Bitchin [founder of Latitudes and Attitudes magazine and a very vocal supporter of the sailing industry] was proactive about getting a show in Texas. It's clear the Texas sailing market was under-served. We brought a Sail America Village within the show. We're selling booth space, managing the seminar program, running a Discover Sailing venue, and organizing some special events.
What is the Sail America Village?
It's a new concept. We'll create an area dedicated to sailboats and sailing-related exhibitors, and offer sailing activities, education, entertainment. The goal is to increase attendance and space sales. Plus, it's appealing to show participants.
Let's talk about Strictly Sail. There's some confusion about Strictly Sail Pacific and Strictly Sail Long Beach. One of these shows is operated by Sail America; the other is operated by NMMA.
Strictly Sail is a proprietary name of NMMA . Other people use the name. Long Beach has been an ongoing show, but recently put the Strictly Sail moniker on it to grow its sailing presence. But, that's not our show.
Long Beach has been an ongoing show that is now being managed by NMMA with an agreement with SCMA. Under that agreement, the show has been labeled a Strictly Sail Show, which is an NMMA trademark. Sail America and NMMA work together to promote the entire suite of Strictly Sail shows, independent of who is managing them.
What does that mean for you as the west coast rep for Strictly Sail Pacific and what does it mean for Sail America?
The Long Beach show services an entirely different market place (California is a big place remember!). Although we haven't yet, we will find a way for each show to help the other to create a better industry for businesses and consumers. We can all have good shows and grow the sport. Let's all have fun; after all its sailing.
America's Cup is coming to San Francisco Bay. Care to comment?
It's great. It puts a spotlight on sailing. Frankly, the industry needs to take advantage of this moment in the sun. The entire series shines a light on the sport and the industry.
How does it affect Strictly Sail Pacific?
It's been a success with the show. The ACEA and Team Oracle have participated in the last three shows. The first year, Tom Ehman [spokesperson for the America's Cup] MC'd an excellent talk and Q&A session with the winning Oracle team. The second year, they held a presentation with the Cup and the Cup was on show for a couple of days. The third year, the Oracle AC 45 was on display. There is a plan in the works for Strictly Sail Pacific in April.
What are some of the selling points of Strictly Sail Pacific?
The event brings in a lot of people. The core West Coast sailing enthusiast. Strictly Sail Pacific's strength is in it seminar series and special events. We work hard to make Strictly Sail Pacific an event as opposed to a show. People aren't there to just look at boats. It's our seminar series, our speaker series, our VIP events. Last year we had a wine tasting on the USS Potomac, FDR's floating white house. We always bring it to the show, and people love it. It's not a sailboat but FDR was a sailor.
Strictly Sail Pacific will be April 11–14, 2013, in Oakland, California.
This newsletter has been edited to correct an error.