Sailing and Lawson’s Dry Hills by Group Marketing Manager, Belinda Jackson

Not long after seizing the reins of Group Marketing Manager, I was introduced to the local Yacht Club. It was January 2016 and about our 12th year of sponsoring their wonderful New Year Regatta. On the final night, the club house was full of people who’d had a great weekend’s racing in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds and they were eagerly awaiting the prize giving.

Afterwards, on the way back in the car, General Manager Sion Barnsley, a keen sailor himself, said that he wasn’t sure about our continued sponsorship and that we had given a significant amount of money and wine over the years. All I could remember thinking was, ‘Great – you introduce me to all the members, get me to hand out the prizes and at my next meeting, expect me to tell them we’re going to pull the plug?!”

HMNZS Aotearoa

HMNZS Canterbury VIP luncheon

I hatched a different plan.

Rather than end our sponsorship of one club, I decided that Lawson’s Dry Hills was ideally placed to become THE wine of New Zealand’s sailing fraternity. So instead of stopping something small, I wanted to go big. Really big.

After some research, I picked up the phone to Mike Hall-Taylor, then Marketing Manager of Yachting New Zealand. I don’t think he’d ever had someone call him up and offer him a wine partnership before – but he seemed to like the idea! After more discussion and meeting the CEO, Dave Abercrombie, we signed a three-year agreement to become the Official Wine Partner of Yachting New Zealand.

I’m not sure that was exactly what Sion had in mind when he said we needed to review our sponsorship of the local yacht club. I’d moved us out of the realms of ‘local’ and into the spotlight of ‘national’ and it was going to involve quite a bit more investment!

Sion Barnsley and crew on classic yacht for the AAR

Sion Barnsley and crew on classic yacht for the AAR

But I am a firm believer in speculate to accumulate and with the big corporate wine producers splashing cash all over many other areas, sailing was the one thing that we could ‘own’.

Now some five years later, we are enjoying our second term of the partnership. In fact, it has been extended over the years to include some wonderful events such as the Auckland Anniversary Regatta, serving our wines on board the New Zealand Naval Ship assigned for the VIP luncheon, to the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club Regatta in Wellington and the Classic Yacht Association to name but a few. We also enjoy a great relationship with the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, including our sponsorship of the MasterCard Superyacht Series last summer. Oh, and did someone mention the America’s Cup? We weren’t technically involved in that as the team has its own wine sponsor, but we had front row seats with our support for New Zealand sailing!

We have also made some great friends and we have an amazing ambassador in Dave Abercrombie. Dave is very generous with his support for our wines and we are privileged to have such an active and genuine partner for our brand.


Crew raising LDH flag at AAR

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