UnlimitedHydroplaneRacing.com would like to thank Seafair President & CEO, Richard Andersen, for providing his perspectives on Seafair and the role Unlimited Hydroplane Racing will play in the future.
Hydroplane racing is Seattle’s oldest professional sport (yes – it was here before the Seahawks, the Mariners… you name it.) It is one of the pillars Seafair was built on, and our festival just wouldn’t be the same without it.
I’m very excited for Seafair 2017, particularly Seafair Weekend and the Albert Lee Appliance Seafair Cup. Currently, our team is finalizing plans with H1 Unlimited, and we expect to have a full array of the sport’s top drivers competing.
Great Sponsors. Great Teams.
We are so fortunate to have Albert Lee Appliance as a title sponsor year after year, as Albert Lee III’s support allows us to do so much in just three days. I’m not sure I’ve met anyone more dedicated to their community. He is simply a first class human being and clearly has a strong passion and dedication to the sport of hydroplane racing.
Rob Graham and HomeStreet Bank are also key players in both the sport and in onsite partnerships at Seafair Weekend. Having these three assets working together prove an unstoppable force in the continuation of hydro racing.
Anyone familiar with hydroplanes expresses a concern about the aging fan base. I’ve heard it from many people, and yet when you watch the sport and meet the people connected to it, you can clearly see it’s exciting and worthy of fan participation. With that in mind, Seafair’s challenge and our clear goal is to reach new audiences that we haven’t yet connected with, particularly the younger generation.
Rookie Andrew Tate winning the Albert Lee Appliance Seafair Cup last season is a huge plus for us. He’s a talented, vibrant young man with a deep family history in the sport, and he’s the perfect advocate for reaching the younger generation.
We believe that to truly connect with new audiences, we need to understand what their expectations are and deliver. It’s a formula, and as simple as it sounds, it’s actually quite complex. We’re faced with integrating new ideas into traditional ideas as well as the schedule set for carrying out the races.
So, timing and impact for these new crowds becomes our core challenge.
Focus: Fan Experience
Our focus at Seafair currently is to enhance the overall experience by enhancing guest relations. This is everything from getting to the event, finding great food and beverage selections, receiving highly courteous treatment, and an enhanced entertainment experience such as music and other visual demonstrations we can implement.
What gives me great confidence and hope for Seafair in achieving these outcomes is not only our highly capable management team, but also our 2,000+ volunteers that are all dedicated to making a difference in Seattle. Without our volunteers, Seafair simply would not exist.
I am especially excited that our volunteers will be under the leadership of our new event chair, Kathy McLemore. She has been with Seafair for many years and knows the importance of fan experience.
Looking down the road for 2018 and beyond, the obvious big draw for Seafair Weekend is the Blue Angels and H1s. We’re fortunate to already have secured the Blue Angels for 2018, and I’m confident the H1s will continue their long-standing tradition with us.
What we are also committed to doing is to continue to improve the areas I spoke on above; adding new entertainment that will enhance the experience and attract more visitors, many being first-time ticket buyers.
Our belief is that once you’ve seen a hydro race, it’s hard not to get excited about it!
Our job is to deliver an amazing guest experience so our fans are not only treated well, but that they witness the roaring hydroplanes and gasp. When you hear those engines you’re drawn to the noise… it’s iconic.
Our challenge, and our main focus, is to get people out and see it. We know once they do they’ll be lifelong fans, and next time they’ll bring their friends.
Seafair President & CEO