Data from the latest audit confirms the economic value of the Monsoon Cup
THE World Match Racing Tour, which is considered the sailing equivalent of motor racing's Formula One, starts this month with the first leg in Langenargen, Germany, on May 23 and ends with the last day of the ninth stage in Kuala Terengganu on Dec 9. The first stage of the inaugural Malaysian Match Racing Circuit to choose the sole Malaysian representative for the international sailing competition will also kick off this month in Lumut.
But though professional sailors and international media have heaped praise on the world-class facilities and organisation, and the Monsoon Cup has won the best event award three times, its critics have not stopped trying to rain on its parade over the last seven years. But though they have been able to make waves with allegations that the investments have been a waste of money, they have never been able to back up their claims. On the other hand, the results of annual independent audits, like the one announced on Thursday, have provided hard evidence of the positive return on investment from the sailing regatta. Last year, 1,753 jobs were created and RM16.2 million was spent by 17,000 spectators, making it the best year ever. Though other benefits like the thrill of watching yacht races close to the shore, the pleasure provided by the onshore entertainment, or the sheer festivity of the carnival-like atmosphere, may be more difficult to quantify in monetary terms, they are no less real. And so is the Monsoon Cup's invaluable role as the foundation for building sailing skills, or the demonstrated ability to organise top-level international sports events.
Ironically, however, the detractors who pour scorn on the event may have their wish come true. This is because the right to host the last stage of the world sailing series expires this year. Though the Monsoon Cup organiser wants to renew the contract for another four years, it is not their decision to make. And though the state wants the race to stay in Pulau Duyong, the tour's history suggests that venues come and go like the tide. While Chicago was added to this year's calendar, Bornholm in Denmark was dropped last year, and Troia replaced by Portimao as the Portuguese host in 2010. The organiser of the World Match Racing Tour is also actively looking for new venues. This is not to say that Pulau Duyong would be left high and dry. But it does mean we'd better not take the Monsoon Cup and its benefits for granted, and give it the recognition and support it deserves.