Mal Crease, CEO of the ascendant Vector Martini Racing talks to Don Hoyt Gorman about his partnerships with Y.CO, Danish Yachts and Rainsford Mann Design and his vision for a marine lifestyle media brand.

The worlds of yachting, auto racing and sponsorship will be intertwined as closely as they’ve ever been when the engines start up in Monaco this week in preparation for the 2014 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix. One of the spectacular sights in the port this weekend will be the new Vector Martini Racing V40R offshore powerboat, whose livery will mirror that of the Williams Martini Racing F1 cars driven by Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.

The V40R hull has already won numerous races and set world records. She’s one of the fastest and most formidable power boats on the water, and as part of her tour to Monaco, Vector Martini Racing are getting VIPs aboard for a ride. It’s all part of the plan to bring together the adrenaline, power and luxury of F1 and yachting, as envisaged by the CEO of Vector World, Mal Crease.

The Williams Martini Racing Formula 1 car for 2014

Just as the V40R was on its way to Monaco this week, I sat down with Crease for lunch in London to hear from him more about his vision for powerboat racing, performance yachts and the marine business.

“Speedboats are to yachting what F1 is to cars: It’s the extreme end of the spectrum,” he told me, with palpable enthusiasm for power and speed, and spectacle and the businesses that enable it all. “Providing that platform for people to engage with boating, yachts, sport, fun and lifestyle is what Vector World is all about, and securing this sponsorship deal with Martini has been huge for us. Bringing the boat to Monte Carlo for the F1, sharing those Martini racing stripes with the Williams Martini team … that’s absolutely fantastic.”

Crease and the Vector Martini Racing team had hoped to race in the London to Monte Carlo Venture Cup race this June, before the RYA pulled its support for the event a couple weeks ago. Now, the V40R will focus on a series of world-record attempts as Crease and his team at Vector World negotiate promotional and broadcast deals worldwide.

The Vector V40R with Y.CO branding will be in Monaco this weekend for the
2014 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix

Crease explains that Vector World is a lifestyle and media company: Alongside the racing boats (building of which is outsourced to Vector Power Boats in Canada, which also build luxury-spec GT versions) Crease has developed a line of carbon fibre supercar-inspired “performance yachts” with Rainsford Mann Design, to be built by Danish Yachts.

“I see Vector a bit like Ferrari," he explained. "We are building the platform to give people the desire to get on the water, and we’re leading them to the builders of the boats themselves. This isn’t an approach that I think may have huge traction in the US or Europe, by the way… but I do see it starting to work really very well in places like Brazil and the countries around the South China Sea. That’s a playground I want to explore… we’re looking at one-design racing series, world-record shots and promotional TV opportunities in China, Vietnam, Malaysia.”

Capitalising on the F1-lifestyle and yachting crossover, superyacht brokerage house Y.CO has announced a long-term strategic partnership with Vector Martini Racing. The Y.CO logo is clearly displayed on the muscular haunches of the V40R.

“The powerboat lifestyle blends perfectly with the Y.CO view of yachting—it is a lifestyle that’s all about having fun on the water,” Charlie Birkett, CEO of Y.CO told me. “Offshore powerboat racing is seeing resurgence and we look forward to developing our relationship with Vector Martini Racing over the coming months.”

The V40R in testing on Lake Okanagan near Vector Power Boat's factory in
Kelowna, British Colombia

At this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, Y.CO will host the Martini Terrazza, where its team will host Martini and Y.CO guests while watching the races from the company’s penthouse terrace overlooking the chicane.

“Our close relationship with Vector Martini Racing means that we are well placed to inform Y.CO Clients who are interested in the powerboat lifestyle,” Birkett said. “The partnership fits well with our Big Boys’ Toys service—informing our clients of the latest innovative and cool toys. Vector’s fast powerboats are an exciting addition to this scene. While there have been a couple of recent launches of large, fast yachts, it will take time for this trend to come to the charter market. However, Sealyon, Jems and Cheeky Tiger are popular yachts in our bespoke charter fleet—all fast yachts with top speeds of 25 to 35 knots.”

We’ll be watching the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix this weekend, keeping an eye out for the V40R with the iconic Martini stripes—and the Y.CO logo. It’ll be interesting to follow the uptake on the connection between the water and the track: With Bernie Ecclestone and Eddie Jordan—both savvy F1 businessmen and yacht owners—on site, it might just trigger a new era of good times between F1 and yachting. Stay tuned.

The Superyacht Owner will chat to Charlie Birkett for 'CEO: In conversation' in Issue 13, out next month. To subscribe and make sure you receive your copy when it is available, click here.

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