Hello, first of all, can you introduce yourself shortly?
I was born on the 11th of April, 1958. I completed my primary school education at Bodrum Cumhuriyet and Turgut Reis primary schools, secondary school and high school educations at İzmir Türk Highschool, and university at METU Physics Department. After graduating from METU in 1981, I decided to continue my career at Bodrum. I followed the footsteps of my father, Ömer Aras who was the Italian honorary consul and proceed in the tourism sector and founded the Era Tourism Travel Agency. As one of the first yacht agencies in Turkey, I believe I contributed to the developments in this area to a considerable extent. Aside from commercial operations, I took an active role on the foundation of the Yacht Manager Foundation in order to find a solution to escalating problems of yachting and nautical tourism. Later, I took part at Chamber of Shipping’s Muğla branch as one of its founders and member of the board.
I took the lead of educating 7 years and older kids about sailing at Muğla region by founding Era Bodrum Sailing Club. My aim was to make sailing sports popular in our territory among youngsters. Aside from allowing many youngsters of ours to do sports, I prepared a foundation for other yacht clubs’ establishment in our region.
Would you like to share the origin story of the Era Sailing Club with our readers?
The idea of Era Sailing Club derived from the decision to organize The Bodrum Cup Regatta by Era Yachting and Tourism Co. Ltd. in 1989. Our aim was to draw attention to using sails in charter yacht regatta and make it common and upon accomplishing this, we federated the club in 1993 and started courses on optimist.
We continued our work selflessly as the only institution which provides course and activity on optimist branch in Muğla region until the early 2000’s. Thus, Era Sailing Club became an institution which raises Turkey’s firsts and sends sportsmen and sportswomen to the national team. As the club, we led our country by offering the idea of having a sailboat school that allows increasing youngsters’ attraction and knowledge of sailing. At the same time, I lead the production of ‘STS BODRUM’ which is first in the history of the Republic.
Since we operate in an area where tourism activity is at its peak, as the club, we take action with the idea of the best way to raise young people’s awareness and protect them is the sports and sailing is the most suitable sports branch in this region.
How the education is organized in Era Sailing Club?
We have been delivering lectures dividing them into specific periods since 1993. We arrange the dates of periods to cover 10 weekdays. In these days, our lectures start at 9.30 and finish at 14.00. During the course days, we have sea training at 09.30 to 11.30, lunch break at 11.30 and 12.30, and continue with sea training again at 12.30 and 14.00.
As the club, you have an experience of many years. Can you discuss about your awards and accomplishments?
We won lots of Turkey Championships in optimist and laser categories and our athletes have many successes in the races abroad. At the same time, many of our students join to 420 class of National Team Camp, in the context of Turkish Sailing Federation’s activity program.
How old do you think a child should be to begin to sailing?
I believe, 7 is the most ideal age for a child to begin sailing as a sport. Because the child should know how to swim and must have developed decision mechanism.
What are your thoughts about The Bodrum Cup?
It was October 1989 when, as a group of Bodrum-lover sea enamors, we came together and founded The Bodrum Cup as a nautical festival. Every year we expanded our family by motivating lots of youngsters in Bodrum. This year, we are celebrating the 30th year of our festival. This fact is indeed a big reason to feel pride. During this thirty year, The Bodrum Cup has become an organization which attracted the whole Mediterranean’s attention as an international nautical festival and regatta. At the same time, aspired to be one of the Mediterranean’s biggest regatta.
At the moment, Muğla and Bodrum Municipalities are supporting us for a long time as a sponsorship. For our 30th year, we made a naming sponsorship agreement, first time, with American Hospital and our event’s name changed as American Hospital The Bodrum Cup. Aside from American Hospital, Koç Group decided to support our organization with their Opet, Setur Marinas, Ford Otosan, and Arçelik brands. Also, Mr. Mesut Toprak is the naming sponsor of the organization which we wanted to host it in İstanbul with Four Seasons Hotel and now we organize Four Seasons Hotel The Bodrum Cup Istanbul Challenge dedicated to the 30th year. In addition to the sponsorships of The Bodrum Edition, Barbaros Yachting, Europcar, Nespresso, Hürriyet, neredekal.com and Turkish Airlines; Metro, Gastronometro, Anadolu Sigorta, TAV Passport, and Yalıkavak Marina’s support continues from previous years.
Can you mention briefly about your 2019 targets?
What we are trying to do with The Bodrum Cup is that to make it a nautical festival that has become more and more popular abroad by expanding the nautical spirit which forms the basis of these lands. We do this with the important names and collaborations that we have added to our organization every year. That’s why we aim to make The Bodrum Cup a bigger brand in the coming years. In line with this vision, David Dein, former vice-president of Arsenal Football Club and one of the founding members of the Premier League, joined our team as the organization’s commodore. He is one of the biggest values in our organization. At the same time, this winter we sent our participating yachts to important and prestigious regattas. There, we invited yachts which participated and got a place in the races. We also became sister clubs with many sailing clubs.
In 2019, we aim to become Europe’s biggest sailing organization with more crowded crew, including experienced sailors from those sailing clubs