by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
A London PR firm reached out to Scuttlebutt World Headquarters, eager to spread the news of how foiling and ocean racing boats and sailors are in Jeddah throughout May and June as part of the Jeddah Season celebrations hosted by the National Events Centre of Saudi Arabia.
Apparently, this is an initiative being run by Jeddah Yacht Club in partnership with Saudi Sailing Federation and is designed to inspire and encourage more people to participate in sailing in Saudi Arabia.
Thanks to the America’s Cup defender, which had considered Jeddah as a potential venue for the 37th America’s Cup, I can find this port city on a map Thanks to professional golfer Phil Mickelson, his view of their nation’s government is well known.
“They’re scary motherf—ers to get involved with,” said Mickelson. “… They killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay.”
While this all doesn’t have much to do with a sailing publication that focuses on North America, I caught myself wondering how much money this PR firm was getting paid. These are tough times at HQ, and Scuttlebutt could use an angel, but I digress.
With Jeddah losing out to Barcelona, Spain in the America’s Cup sweepstakes, now they are paying a team of sailors to be based at Jeddah Yacht Club and host come-and-try sessions and demonstrations in futuristic boats including a Persico 69F, Waszps, and Nikki foiling boats, along with Wing Foils and E-Foils.
“These amazing boats and boards will make more young people want to sail and enjoy water sports,” said Samia Bagdady, CEO of the Saudi Sailing Federation. “The ocean racing boats that are here give a different but equally dramatic insight into the amazing potential the sport of sailing has for the people of Saudi Arabia.”
The government seeks for sailing to reflect Jeddah’s rich culture and heritage as well as its growing status as a major regional tourist destination. They are even hosting a Women’s Day to demonstrate to Saudi Arabian women and girls that sailing is a sport open for them. That’s pretty good for a country where women have been historically suppressed.
“We are building a destination and a sport, so it is fitting to host these great boats and talented sailors,” said Jeddah Yacht Club spokesman Adrian Peet. “We want people to come to Jeddah Yacht Club and experience sailing. It is a relatively little-known sport in Saudi Arabia and our aim is to inspire more people to take it up.”
Sounds good to me, particularly as Jeddah Yacht Club includes a beach club, exclusive five-star hotel, restaurants, berthing for the superyacht crowd, and exciting entertainment for memories to last a lifetime. Bring on the Red Sea!