There is no hiding it, if there is one year to work for the Dutch Water Sports Association, it is unquestionably 2023.
Arno van Gerven, the CEO of the organisation, readily admits it as he oversees the Allianz Regatta, part of the Dutch Water Week. This second leg of the Sailing World Cup is a major event in its own right but is also serving as a tantalising glimpse at what is to come later this year when The Hague hosts the Allianz Sailing World Championships. And for Van Gerven, this is the chance to show the world, but especially those closest to home, why sailing is so special.
“We started the summer of sailing last week in the Netherlands, I think we will be the capital of sailing this year,” he said.
“It makes us proud; it makes us busy as well. The Allianz Sailing World Championships is a big event, so we are looking forward to that.
“It is the year that you want to work for the Dutch association. It’s a year you can only dream about, so you want to make the most of it. Events are a party on their own, but we want to use the event for the promotion of the sport, we want to show the beauty that the sport has to offer to the whole world, but especially to our own country.
“We want the top sailing every year in the Netherlands. That is part of the legacy, we want to inspire the next generations. Water is everywhere in the Netherlands but water sports are quite unknown, so we want to inspire and show the world what it is all about. That is the legacy we need.”
This will be just the second edition of the Allianz Regatta, with six classes competing across two venues in Almere and Lelystad. Van Gerven and his team have taken on board much of the feedback from 2022’s inaugural event, hoping that a successful second go-around will be the springboard to make the Allianz Regatta one of the staples of the sailing season. He explained: “The preparations for this event started the day after the first edition. We are still building a reputation with this event. We took the feedback from the athletes and the coaches. We used it to improve the event.
“We need to build a reputation towards the future. We want to be one of the major World Cups, so we have to go for that by strengthening every year, improving every year and we are doing that, step by step.
“We have ambitions with the Allianz Regatta. We want all ten disciplines here, around the Amsterdam area, around Almere. Right now, we have to sail in Lelystad as well, we want the concentration of the events here.
“We want to grow the public as well. It’s not only a regatta we are sailing here; it’s an event for everyone. You can join the water sports, it’s like a big showroom for water sports and that is what we want to be in the future. We also want to be the event of innovation. We are proud that this year’s event is run by electricity powered by hydrogen, it’s quite unique, using the smart marks as well, so from a sustainability point of view, we want to grow as well.”
There is plenty of ambition on show from Van Gerven and his team, but they are backing those words up with actions in a bid to build the reputation of the Allianz Regatta.