MORE than 130 guests heard about life at sea from one of the world’s most renown sailors and about how much money the marine sector has contributed to the local economy at a busy networking lunch in Gosport.
The eighth annual MAA press lunch took place on Friday at Haslar Marina.
This year’s event featured speakers such as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, from Clipper Ventures, Leslie Ryan from SailGP and Matt Sheahan, a TV producer and journalist.
Sir Robin – the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world – reflected on the past 16 years of Clipper Ventures in Gosport. The firm, which employs 70 people, runs The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, a biennial around the world sailing race.
Sir Robin reeled off an impressive list of figures including injecting an estimated £7m per year into the economy.
‘We’ve trained 5,000 people to do the race with 40 per cent never having been on a boat before,’ he said.
‘But they stay in sport. They take it up. They’re enthusiastic. It’s our job to cash in on that enthusiasm and teach them to become good seamen.’
Matt used his speech to reflect on technical breakthroughs.
He said: ‘I’m blown-away by watching boats foiling and the technology in them. SailGP has really caught my eye; those boats are stacked with technology. On the outside they’re blisteringly quick. But the control systems are really impressive inside.
‘These breakthroughs are going to have repercussions way down the line. New technology is allowing sailors to do things that weren’t possible before.’
Leslie underpinned Matt’s comments about technology and talked about the new global race series.
Other speakers included Mark Jardine, editor of yachtsandyachting.com, and John Gillard from charity Oarsome Chance.
MAA’s press lunch, organised in conjunction with Dean & Reddyhoff owners of Haslar Marina, brought together marine businesses as well as the press.
Mike Shepherd, director of MAA, said: ‘This is one of my favourite events in MAA’s calendar. There’s such a buzz as people catch-up on old friendships and forge new ones. As an agency we’re delighted to be at the forefront of the marine industry, creating opportunities for our clients and working closely with the press.’