Reprinted with permission from Bermuda: Sailing to Success
Mark Watson has huge enthusiasm for sailing. He is equally passionate about Bermuda, as well as Argo Group, one of the powerhouse financial service companies driving the Island’s economy, which he heads. He told me: “Bermuda is a great setting to do international business.”
Almost invariably, Mark can be found mixing business with what is happening on the water: “We have been sponsoring The Argo Gold Cup (formerly the King Edward VII Gold Cup) in Hamilton for the past nine years. It is one of yacht racing’s oldest and most prestigious trophies, attracting the top names in the sport who regularly come and compete in this match racing series.
“The event has become almost a rite of passage for those wanting to break into the America’s Cup because it is only in this Bermudian Invitational that they get the chance to measure up against the established names. We’ve had three-time America’s Cup winner Dennis Conner and Australian Cup skippers Gordon Lucas and Peter Gilmour. Then there are the two New Zealanders. Chris Dickson has won the Gold Cup twice and Russell Coutts, who has won the America’s Cup four times, has the same record with our trophy. Oracle Team USA skipper James Spithill won it in 2005 and Sir Ben Ainslie, who heads Britain’s Land Rover/Bar America’s Cup challenge, won in 2009 and 2010 with Artemis Cup skipper Iain Percy crewing for him. That’s quite a list.”
Mark points out that sailing has played a key part in Bermuda’s history ever since the Island was first colonised. “Nelson’s Dockyard was built in the early 1800s as a main base for the Royal Navy’s Atlantic fleet. Take a look at the list of Admirals who passed through the place displayed in the National Museum and you realise the importance of Bermuda. The list is a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of British maritime history and if you go down to Admiralty House, look at the polished stone floors that they all walked across. That stone was carried over from the UK as ballast in one of the ships and is just wonderful to look at. This is all part of Bermuda’s strong affinity with the sea and sailing.” (Click here to read more.)