MONTEREY, CA (BRAIN)—The weather gods looked down more favorably on this year’s Sea Otter Classic as attendees enjoyed mostly sunny skies, with a little chilled wind—make that a lot of wind one day, with gusts on Saturday reaching 25 miles per hour.
With mostly cooperative weather, it should come as no surprise that attendance was up from last year.
Across the board, consumer attendance was up about 5 percent with the highest number of spectators—roughly 15,000—showing up on Saturday, the chilliest day of the four-day show.
“It was cool, which is OK, but we had very unusually high winds on Saturday, which was more of a discomfort that anything certainly for everybody—the athletes, the spectators, staff and so forth,” said Frank Yohannan, president and chief executive officer of the Sea Otter Classic.
Exhibitor sales were also up about 5 percent from 2007, Yohannan said.
The number of registered athletes was on par with last year, although some elite athletes skipped Sea Otter to race in the opening round of the Mountain Bike World Cup in Belgium. Moreover, the road races lost some pro teams and riders to the Tour de Georgia, which staged the following week.
“While we certainly want to have as many as the top, elite athletes in the world attend, we recognize there are conflicts with other events,” Yohannan said, adding that the World Cup events weren’t finalized until after this year’s Sea Otter dates were announced last April.
“This is an Olympic year and there are a lot of events that are moved up. That did have an impact on us, but not a significant impact,” he added.
Sea Otter approved credentials for 350 members of the media, a jump of about 50 from the year before.
The new components and improvements to this year’s event—the product demo area, the bike skills zone and the SRAM Dual Stunt—were all well-attended and will be back next year, Yohannan said.
The focus for next year’s Sea Otter, which is scheduled for April 16-19, will be to focus on the existing format and to continue to improve the new elements.
For full story on Sea Otter 2008, be sure to read the May 1 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.
(PHOTO Courtesy of "Iron" Mike Geraci: Jimi Hendrix's spirit was alive and well in Monterey as the wind cried Sea Otter on Saturday.)
—Jason Norman, Nicole Formosa, Megan Tompkins reporting