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Mon 29 Oct 2007 11:58 AM

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Performance sailing

Sailor and director of epi, Keith Thompson is using sailing as a promotional platform.

Sailor and director of epi, Keith Thompson is using sailing as a promotional platform.

A long time Dubai mariner?

I started sailing at DOSC when I arrived here eight years ago, and have sailed on several sponsored boats, including the Maktoum Sailing Trophy-winner Pal Zileri, and on David Rostant's Mattafix last season. From first hand experience I saw the potential in using the sport as a platform to promote epi International as part of our broader marketing strategy. To be competitive in sailing you need all the attributes we strongly believe in as a high performance investment company focused on result: teamwork, determination, vision, know-how, the will to win and having the right tools to succeed. A perfect match.

So sailors are your target?

Yacht owners, sailors and sailing enthusiasts in the Middle East tend to fit our target demographic very well indeed. Our target market consists of those people who want access to sound investment opportunities. Our entry investment figures are manageable for the majority of middle to senior managers in the region, providing the kind of investment usually only available to high net worth individuals.

To be competitive in sailing you need all the attributes we strongly believe in as a high performance investment company.

What products does epi International offer?

In short, epi International offers investment opportunities, using a tailor-made model designed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which provides the best possible returns for offshore investors. Our investments to date have focused on commercial property, but we are in the process of incorporating our business in the DIFC as a regulated organisation, thereby allowing us to expand our range of investment products. Our directors personally invest in all of our syndicates; a clear statement that we fully believe in our products as we invest alongside our customers, paying the same fees, taking the same risks and earning the same returns.

How have you approached this sponsorship project?

Our objective is to increase our profile and further establish our brand image. Not only are we branding epi Mattafix and providing crew clothing, we are also hosting the epi International Regatta at DOSC on the 16th and 17th November. With the Mumm 30 being a high performance boat, we came up with the strap-line of ‘high performance investing', allowing the epi brand to be associated with what we do out on the water. Although the livery on epi Mattafix creates an impactful floating billboard, the regatta will then reinforce our profile.

Why a regatta?

The regatta provides marketing opportunities that compliment our sponsorship of epi Mattafix, and provides us with a more rounded participation in the sport and involvement with people who we would like as Investors and Business Partners.
What's planned for the November regatta?

On the Friday we are planning two or three short course races, with a round-the-world race on Saturday. Of course, these are subject to the wind conditions and we are planning a number of course variations to ensure we have competitive racing.

How are you using the regatta for promotion?

The epi International brand will be visible across a number of mediums such as flags, caps, crew clothing and other collateral. More importantly, the regatta provides a fantastic platform to interact with prospective investment partners and, of course, to promote competitive sailing within the region.

The weekend is set to be a fantastic social occasion with corporate hospitality, a buffet dinner and a band on Friday night. Saturday will culminate with a presentation and prize giving, followed by a BBQ and band, all in keeping with the beach party theme of the social events. We are intending to offer quality, yet practical prizes, things sailors will actually use, not just silverware - Gareth watch the contents of your van! During the epi regatta, we will be entertaining clients and guests in our corporate hospitality area. Additionally, we will have spectator boats which will allow people to see the action up close and to get a feel for what sailing is all about.

What about the long term?

If the project is well received and produces the results we expect, then we will certainly look at expanding our involvement next year. Ideally, we want our involvement in sailing, boats and competitions, to be part of our longer term marketing strategy.

As this is our first year, we have decided to pursue a small, but effective program, which we believe will provide us with a solid return on investment, and one we hope to expand on.

We are focused on long term partnerships with our investors and would like to mirror this ethos in our commitment to competitive sailing in the Gulf. So it would be great to have an epi International series in the future. Let's see how this year pans out.

Are you pleased with the result?

The boat looks great! Mattafix has been re-sprayed and now sports the epi International logo sweeping across the hull. The mainsail was sourced from Doyle in New Zealand which will also showcase epi International branding. Knowing Mattafix's capabilities from last season and with the addition of the new mainsail, a bona fide Mumm 30 class cut, we are extremely excited about our prospects. We know she's fast, so bring on the racing!


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