The co-founder of Pwllheli-based Jones O Gymru Crisps is urging the North Wales business community to help leave a “legacy” after becoming the first local company to sign as an official partner to the 2015 Optimist European Championships in Pwllheli this summer.
Around 250 of the World’s top young sailors from over 45 countries will take to the waters for the first event at the new Plas Heli Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre from 17-24 July.
And Geraint Hughes believes it is the job of the local businesses to help ensure the youngsters return home more aware of the Welsh language and culture and in awe of how lucky the people of Pwllheli and the surrounding areas are to live in a place of rich heritage and outstanding natural beauty.
Jones O Gymru Crisps, who use potatoes grown in Wales seasoned with Anglesey’s famous sea-salt Halen Mon, will supply packed lunches to the 110 volunteers on each day of the five days’ of racing on Cardigan Bay, with around 40% of those working on the event coming from the immediate local area.
Geraint now wants other local businesses to take advantage of the “privilege” of Pwllheli hosting dozens of countries and hundreds of competitors in big events.
He said: “The area is building a reputation for putting on great events, and having the Optimist Europeans here is a major vote of confidence for Pwllheli. The heritage we have in Pwllheli will be a surprise for many coming here, but it's such a wonderful story, we need to make sure we tell it.
“If local businesses don't engage with events like the Optimist Europeans, then we shouldn't criticise if businesses from outside the area take the lead. We're glad to see the organisers passionate about engaging with the local community.
“By involving local groups and businesses, the experience offered to competitors and their supporters will be better and far more genuine. An event of this magnitude can and should leave a legacy. That will only happen if people and businesses engage.”
The Optimist junior sailing class is widely regarded as the breeding ground for future international sailing success with four-time Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie and Cardiff’s own London 2012 470 class silver medalist, Hannah Mills, both former Optimist sailors. Over 90% of sailors at London 2012 raced Optimists as juniors.
Geraint has laid down a tongue-in-cheek challenge to everyone visiting for the event too. He added: “With 80% of Pwllheli's people fluent in Welsh, we'd suggest everybody tries to learn a few sentences of Europe's oldest living language before they set of back home!
“Pwllheli and the surrounding area have so much to offer. We're sure the local people will be keen to give the young sailors a warm Welsh welcome.”
Stephen Tudor, Commodore at Pwllheli SC said: “Hosting an event is about so much more than just the racing, you want competitors and their supporters to leave feeling an affinity for the venue and talking about it positively for years to come. We’re thrilled to welcome a local business of Jones O Gymru Crisps’ standing as an official event partner and hope they will be the first of many to get involved in the event.”