Spirit of the Sea Festival Hailed Success

I thought I would give you a little bit of feedback from this year’s event ahead of the Chairman’s review which is currently being put together.

The Festival showcased a total of almost 50 activities at 27 different venues within Weymouth, Portland and Abbotsbury with the sea as the theme. The headline events proved to be the daily Beach Live concerts, the Dorset Seafood Festival, the Henri Lloyd Weymouth Regatta, the MarineEx show, the Moving Tides Children’s Procession and the Weymouth International Maritime Modelling Exhibition. An important aspect was the ‘Enjoying Water’ campaign, sponsored by the Environment Agency, which was set up to encourage people to get in, on and under the water with one of six water sports – diving, kayaking, kitesurfing, sailing, snorkeling and windsurfing.

The Festival proved to be most successful, feedback has been very positive and many events were oversubscribed, at least seven new events are already being talked about for next year’s festival. This year’s Spirit of the Sea was launched with a big public relations campaign and received massive coverage from the media.

Local newspapers played a key part in the success of the Festival, however television and radio coverage was also most welcome and spread news of the Festival further afield than Dorset. Television reports from BBC South and BBC Spotlight were augmented with radio reports and interviews with BBC Radio Solent especially during the hour long live show from SS Shieldhall with Sir Robin Knox-Jouhnson. Additionally celebrity visits from Jonathan Ross, Rory McGrath and Paddy McGuinness added to the publicity factor for the Festival. 3000 copies of the ‘Spirit’ programme were distributed through over 50 venues including Tourist Informations Centres, Holiday Parks, and larger hotels, in the main free of charge with some being sold by selected outlets – sales did prove to be a bit of a challenge and this will be reviewed for next year.

The Spirit of the Sea Maritime Festival was started with a most successful launch party on board Britain’s largest steamship the SS Shieldhall attended by over 100 people comprised of sponsors and invited guests. Samantha Bryant from National Boat Shows opened proceedings in style with a loud blast on the ship’s whistle. A raffle that evening raised £700 for the Rotary Club of Weymouth and SS Shieldhall.

On occasions the weather proved challenging for the hosts of the various events. Traffic problems were a definite concern and will need to be carefully assessed in time for next year’s Festival. The website for this year’s Spirit of the Sea Festival resulted in a 40% increase in visitors compared to last year with over 40,000 page views. Important improvements have been identified for next year’s Festival, in particular a title sponsor is earnestly being sought to greatly assist with the issue of branding.

It is estimated that over £5000 in total was raised for charities by various event organizers and some of the various charities that will benefit are Fishermans Mission, RNLI, Weldmar Hospice, Scoliosis Association, Cancer research, Macmillan Research, Royal Lifesaving Society, Boscowan Club, Starlight Children’s Foundation, Rotary Club of Weymouth and SS Shieldhall.

The ‘Spirit’ competitions created quite a bit of interest with over 1300 entries in total across the three individual competitions.

Roy Griffiths
Event Manager