Homecoming Musters and Commonwealth Flotilla

With a passion for water sports and marine tourism, he had a vision a bit like Kevin Costner’s in the movie Field of Dreams.

However, instead of building a baseball diamond in his field, Stuart’s dream was to stage a procession of boats during the Commonwealth Games, something to celebrate the international drama and the famous river, which he wanted people to connect with again.”

Keir Murray, BBC Scotland Sport, 29 July 2014

The need

In 2010 sport was top of the agenda. The Olympic Games were coming to London and then only 2 years later the Commonwealth Games would arrive in Glasgow.

But in the years after these mega-events sport was almost certain to drop down the agenda. That would happen even sooner for non-commonwealth sports like sailing.

To address this issue Sailing and boating had to break out of being seen as a “sport” and play a fuller role in other agendas like regeneration, tourism and the rural economy, and that is what James did.

What happened?

The event was tremendously successful.

To build momentum and develop the concept we ran a cruise in company to Ireland in 2013. This saw 50 boats heading out from Largs across the North Channel and gave a hook point for communication activity.

The hook helped us to build and train a team of well over 100 volunteers who brought the whole idea to life. It also gave sponsors and suppliers confidence and helped us secure over £500k in cash and a further £250k of in-kind support.

  • A Homecoming Muster from Mull that travelled through the Crinan Canal and joined the massing of boats at James Watt Dock.
  • The Small Ships race that gathered in Greenock, took in Portavadie and then massed with the other boats.
  • A welcome ceilidh and party in the Sugar Sheds for 1500 people.
  • Two spectator venues (Greenock and the Transport Museum) accommodating over 10000 people.
  • VIP hosting for 400 guests
  • We tripled the size of James Watt Dock and created a “pop-up” marina for 280 boats from scratch in the centre of Glasgow. This used the majority of the UK’s temporary pontoon facilities and included 80 HGV lorry loads. These facilities were built in under 8 days and dismantled in only 2.
  • Hosted a visit of HRH Prince Edward.

Innovations and Impact

In all there where 1900 people who took part and over 100,000 spectators lined the banks of the Clyde to see the event – making it one of the single largest events of the Games.

283 boats took part driving millions into the economy.

There media coverage was extensive with live TV and radio feeds to the BBC through the day including three ten minute slots on BBC Breakfast broadcast across the UK. All the Scottish papers carried imagery in their next issue and there were numerous web articles, blog pieces and videos.

The immediate Economic Impact assessment suggested a visitor spend across the event of £1.3m with further income expected from repeat visits over future years.

There was a legacy project at Greenock with improved visitor pontoon facilities and more broadly the event fed into the positioning of Greenock’s regeneration story.

The event was also the first major sailing event in Scotland to have a full bio-security plan which both sought to limit any possible movement of Invasive Non-Native Species but also sought to educate participants and boats users for longer term impact.

The event also secured a technical relationship with Trackplot who supplied and supported the on-line tracking of key boats for the muster. This was a sector first.


Dehind the scenes and logistics

Let’s make the world more sustainable.

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