Three regattas into his fifth year of sponsorship by Italian car maker Alfa Romeo and Kiwi sailor and Australasian businessman, Neville Crichton is maintaining his winning ways with what is arguably the world’s most successful super maxi, ‘Alfa Romeo’.
Already this season Crichton and Alfa Romeo have won the Maxi Class in two regattas, the Pirelli Cup and the Rolex Capri Race Week with a total of six Line Honours wins.
In the prelude for the big race, the tough Rolex Giraglia Cup, Alfa Romeo and Crichton dominated the first and last days of the inshore regatta. But with three line honours and two handicap wins, it was not quite enough to take the class win, but as the holder of the race record for the main race, Crichton starts the 243 mile race as favourite for another win.
In addition to line honours – which is to be expected for a boat as sleek and well-sailed as Alfa - Neville Crichton was pleased to win the final day’s race by more than five minutes on handicap from Farr 52 Nikimar, especially as the wind increased slightly as the race progressed. “We thought we’d sailed well yesterday,” said the New Zealand skipper, “and we ended up 31st.” So in a similar scenario today he somehow managed to secure the win, even if he still only finished 4th overall in class.
On Thursday a fleet of more than 200 yachts will start the 56th Giraglia Race, a 243-mile marathon starting from St Tropez via the Giraglia Rock at the northern tip of Corsica to the finish in the Italian port of Genoa.
Crichton started his sponsorship programme for Alfa Romeo, which has expanded into a pan-European marketing and advertising programme that is central to the brand’s promotion, six years ago with the first generation Alfa Romeo and victory in the 2002 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race.
Subsequently with two of the fastest super maxi yachts in the world, the Kiwi yachtsman has kept Alfa Romeo in the media with a series of race wins, regatta victories, race records and brought a new level of visibility to Alfa Romeo in a whole range of key car markets.
For Crichton it’s an interesting role reversal.
“In Australia and New Zealand we import Alfa Romeo’s products to sell locally,” he explains, “but here in Europe we provide the major sponsorship visibility for Alfa Romeo so they can sell cars across the continent in what must be one of the biggest sponsorship deals secured by an Australian or New Zealand sporting teams, so as well as promoting Alfa Romeo, we are also promoting the sporting skills of Australians and New Zealanders.”
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