Spirit of the Sea 2008 Review


As part of the Steering group and Event Management team, Creative Solutions help Spirit of the Sea Festival achieve success.

The first of Dorset’s own 2012 legacy festivals – Spirit of the Sea – successfully launched on 5 July 2008 and ran until 13 July 2008. The Spirit festival is now scheduled for every year leading up to and beyond 2012.

Inspiration came from a previous Games host. Kiel City hosted the Olympic Sailing Events in 1972. They took the decision to create a festival which would benefit the region for years to come. 35 years on, Kiel Week is, simply, one of best cultural and sailing events in the world and the biggest of its kind in Northern Europe. It attracts three million visitors from 70 countries and generates 80 million euro for the local economy. There can be no better example of legacy than this.

Team Dorset members formed the Spirit Working Group, bringing vast experience and expertise together to deliver the festival. The Team Dorset 2012 Legacy Manager Chairs this group and it includes representation from the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA), Weymouth & Portland Borough Council (W&PBC), Creative Solutions, Website Marketing, Rotary, Weymouth College, Harbour Trader’s Association, Yacht Clubs of Weymouth, Dorset County Council, heritage groups and volunteers; a potent partnership of private, public and voluntary sectors working together.

clip_image002[4]In January 2008, a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee was formed to protect the Spirit brand and name and seed corn sponsorship was sought. Initially £6,000 was raised from SWRDA, DCC and W&PBC, which was used to develop a website, produce basic marketing materials and pay any unavoidable expense like event insurance. Once the Spirit Working Group had these tools they were able to gain

commercial sponsorship in cash and kind in order to grow, promote and brand the festival. In the inaugural year this activity has generated the equivalent of over £30,000 in cash and kind, it even included a Spirit festival launch event hosted and funded by the Navy onboard HMS Lancashire.

clip_image002[6]]Spirit of the Sea has had explosive growth and it has become a large and significant in its first year. This is because the concept captured the imaginations of many and brings a host of existing and planned events together under one umbrella brand. It has inspired an army of volunteers. It has inspired other organisers to create events to be included in the festival and it has enabled the Spirit Working Group to create events to further enhance the festival. Good examples of this are the Live Stage on Weymouth Beach which showcased a host of Dorset’s musical and performance talent over 9 days, the Special Schools Beach Sports Challenge and the Waterside Bow Chaser – spectacular action with powerboats and music.

clip_image002[8]All of the Spirit events can be seen on the festival website, www.spiritofthesea.org.uk in great detail. In summary the events included the Dorset Sea Food Festival; Moving Tides (over 400 UK, Spanish and French children and young people took part in this carnival procession); Bow Chaser Boat Ballet, Weymouth Beach Live Stage (over 30 Dorset bands and acts); nine days of beach sport (including a Dorset Special Schools Sports attended by 6 schools and 120 children, Nuts TV Beach Soccer and Tag Rugby); Art in the Park; Dorset Shipwrecks (series of lectures); the Model Boat Festival; Matchstick Fleet; Pebbles, Boats and Sea (programme of natural heritage events); All the Fun of the Seaside (local museum exhibitions); National Rowing Gig

Regatta; Henri Lloyd Regatta; International Moth Regatta; ASA Open Water Swimming Championship (cancelled due to severe weather); Try Sailing; Run to the Bill (an Olympic distance triathlon); Stories by the Sea (story telling); Maine-Ex (marine trade & retail exhibition); and a Charity Ball to raise funds to enable Dorset children to experience sailing – the ball will take place in September 2008.clip_image002[10]


Spirit of the Sea has targets in the government Local Area Agreement (LAA) based on visitor numbers, numbers of contributing events and numbers of sponsors. These are set from 2008–2011. 2008 targets for events and sponsors have been achieved. We estimated that the festival attracted 35,000 extra visitors. Based on a average day trip visitor spend of £41.00 per person (South West Tourism Survey 2005) the Spirit of the Sea festival conservatively generated and additional £1.435 million into the local economy. This is conservative as receipts show that one event alone; Marine-Ex generated £500,000 of sales for Dorset businesses. In reality this economic benefit is likely to be much higher as many visitors stayed for a few nights (Weymouth was booked solid over 11th & 12th July) and many will return to the area

at times other than when the Spirit festival is running. Businesses from North, West and East Dorset traded at the festival as well as those from Weymouth and Portland.

Significantly the festival attracted a key new Premier Partner, National Boat Shows (NBS -organisers of the London and Southampton Boat Shows), who have come with the intent of supporting the growth of Spirit into a major national and international event. Non-competitive events that have synergy with NBS grow the UK boating sector and create win-win for both organisations; Samantha Bryant of National Boat Shows commented: “We are delighted to be associated with the ‘Spirit of the Sea’ festival which enabled Weymouth & Portland to showcase their exciting developments and plans for this 2012 Olympic & Para-Olympic Games sailing venue. It was a fantastic first time event and a real pleasure to work with the extremely dedicated ‘Spirit of the Sea’ team who brought together superbly the boating and non-boating communities with an amazing range of activities both ashore and afloat.”


The event attracted international and national publicity through the boating press and a Radio Five Live programme – “2012 On Your Marks – What is the legacy from the Games for the UK?”, regional TV coverage on BBC and ITV as well as local radio and press coverage. Wessex FM and Dorset Echo were the Spirit media partners, both partners generated impressive support. Across all media activity, 2012 Legacy was the firm message.clip_image002[18]Spirit of the Sea has become a community engaging 2012 legacy event that will grow and grow; with the exception of the Transport theme of Dorset’s12 for 2012 Legacy

aspirations it maps across and delivers on the remaining 11 themes; Tourism, Sport, Health, Economy, Skills, Sailing, Marine Industries, International Profile, Diversity, Social and Environment.

Spirit of the Sea has the potential to become Dorset, Weymouth and Portland’s greatest 2012 Legacy event that, like Kiel, will be a significant economic, sporting and cultural contributor for years to come.


Gary Fooks 2012 Legacy Manager Team Dorset 22nd July 2008.