19/09/2006 - 22:00

Not for profit: Boom sets scene for sailing

19/09/2006 - 22:00

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Corporate entertaining has gone from strength to strength in the wake of the resources boom, as companies devote larger budgets to networking activities and team development.

Not for profit: Boom sets scene for sailing

Corporate entertaining has gone from strength to strength in the wake of the resources boom, as companies devote larger budgets to networking activities and team development.

One of the beneficiaries of this has been the Western Australian Yachting Foundation (WAYF), a not-for-profit organisation that has its origins in the halcyon days of the Australia II America’s Cup win.

During the past eight years, WAYF has developed a large corporate sailing program, with a growth of between 15 and 25 per cent each season, and a 25 per cent increase in fleet size during the 2005-2006 season.

One client has regularly participated in the twilight sailing program in previous seasons, usually booking six or seven boats.

This year, the client has reserved 32 vessels.

WAYF executive officer Skip Lissiman attributes the increasing interest in corporate sailing to the strength of the local economy.

“Our corporate sailing programs have increased in popularity over the last few years with the resource boom in Western Australia,” Lissiman said.

“We pride ourselves on the attention to detail and service we provide, which equates to a very high rate of repeat customers and a lot of ‘word-of-mouth’ referrals for new business.”

WAYF corporate events manager Megan Beaumont said that, while there was strong representation by mining and resource companies in the federation’s core client base, another industry to have benefited from the economic climate is financial services, which is fielding more crews than previous years.

“It’s definitely a flow-on effect,” Ms Beaumont said.

In all, 475 boats have been reserved by existing clients for the upcoming corporate events season, with every Friday in February and March 2007 already fully booked.

“In events where a company might have previously booked five boats, they are now booking eight,” Ms Beaumont told WA Business News.

In addition to twilight sailing and several corporate regattas, WAYF offers a team-building program for companies looking to foster problem solving and communication skills among staff.

The team-building program, consisting of two on-water training sessions and a series of short sailing races, uses the Australia II win as inspiration to convey effective team work skills.

The program has proven very popular with clients and has received many referrals and repeat business.

Corporate events are a significant part of the foundation’s work, helping to reduce costs for youth sailing programs and open regattas.

Charities and other not-for-profit groups also receive support from WAYF, among them Telethon Speech & Hearing and the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Established in 1988, the foundation was intended as a vehicle to promote Perth’s appeal internationally as a venue for sailing.

WAYF has a fleet of 12 Foundation 36 yachts, launched in October 2005 and moored at Royal Perth Yacht Club.

The original fleet was first replaced in 1995, when New Zealand company Bakewell-White Design Group, in conjunction with Skip Lissiman and the WAYF board, developed a new boat design for the foundation.

Local boat builder Peter Milner Yachts was commissioned to build the fleet, and has now built 20 Foundation 36 yachts for WAYF over 11 years.

The custom-designed model, used again in the most recent fleet, features a large cockpit suited to corporate sailing, with space to accommodate seated guests opting for a less hands-on experience. 

The sailing season runs from mid-October to mid-April.

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