New boss at the RORC
Jeremy Wilton has been appointed as the new CEO of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. Wilton, who has a background in professional sports management and marketing, takes over from Eddie Warden Owen, and joins the club in the first year that the club is to finish its Rolex Fastnet Race in Cherbourg.
Wilton is former managing director of Bath Rugby and COO of Wasps Rugby. Earlier in his career he spent a decade at Whitbread PLC, where he oversaw a sponsorship portfolio that covered two Whitbread Round the World Races before founding a marketing agency. He is also a keen sailor who has competed in the Fastnet Race, Cowes Week and most of the RORC’S long-distance races.
With his background in running and marketing commercial sports companies, Wilton will bring a new perspective to events run by the club, including the Fastnet, Transatlantic Race, Caribbean 600, Round Britain and Ireland Race, and cross-channel offshore races.
“There are a lot of areas in the club that need reviewing, but it is early days,” Wilton told us.
The RORC has just under 4,000 members around the world, and clubhouses in London and Cowes.
Wilton observes: “Obviously we have an ageing profile of membership so there’s a question of how we make it an inviting proposition for younger members.”
Could expanding the club’s collection of races be part of the remit? Wilton says: “It could be. We’re looking at that.”
It’s no secret that the RORC has long been keen to revive the Admiral’s Cup, which enjoyed its international heyday as a team event in the 1980s and 1990s before withering and being abandoned in 2003.
“Is there a place for a team yacht racing event? We need to review and look at all these things like the cost and availability of crew,” he says.
Wilton takes over in the wake of a longrunning controversy: many members disapproved of the change to the historic Fastnet Race route. Wilton says: “[The race] is far more than where it starts and finishes. But my role going forward is to bring on board people who are still not happy with the decision. We are always mindful that this is a membership club and we are there for the members.”