Sponsorship: That was then, This is now

Published on August 27th, 2013

By DM Street, Jr.
Back in the dark ages (1940’s and 50’s), the Long Island Sound sailing season closed right after Labor Day, with the five day Manhasset Bay Race Week. The starts weren’t until 1500 so business men could do a half days work, hop a train to Port Washington, jump on the boat (well prepared by crew that was playing hooky from school that had just started) and make the start.

The first day there was a short FREE cocktail party before racing started. There was NO entry fee for these regattas.

Year in and year out at my home club of Manhasset Bay YC, the docks, moorings, launch service, and Race Committee showed a loss of about $25,000, but the bar and restaurant showed a profit of about $25,000. With this balance, everyone was happy.

In the late sixties I was in the club’s sailing when in walks Jack McCracken. Jack was from a very upper class sailing family, and was trying to establish himself as a yacht broker/charter broker specializing in the Caribbean. Jacks said he had an idea that was going to revolutionize how regattas would be organized.

He pointed out that yachtsmen had money and companies, especially those that were pushing luxury goods, should sponsor regattas, thereby getting good direct advertising for their product while funding the clubs that run their regattas.

I roared with laughter and asked Jack what he had been smoking to come up with such an outlandish idea. Little did I know what the future would hold for sponsorship and sailing.

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