We speak with Mª José Rienda, Secretary of State for Sport in Spain after she sailed on board the Six Metre Bribon 500 in Sanxenxo, Spain during the last races of the 2019 6mR Spanish Cup. 

What are your feelings after sailing on a Six Metre for the first time?

Above all, I think it’s an incredible honour, a gift. Being able to sees such professionalism and competition in the first person has been incredible. You enjoy it in an open, natural environment, so there is that to it but also seeing the crew and the people I have been sailing with. There are many professionals making all this happen behind the scenes and it has been a pleasure to share those moments with them.

What does sports tourism mean for the economy, both locally and state wide?

For us, for Spain, sports tourism is so very important especially because we are able to attract tourism via the appeal of major sporting events. These are usually people who want to share family moments, gastronomy, different experiences and to simply enjoy the place.

Nationally, in economic terms we generate more than Euros 2.4 billion in sports tourism, which means it is a major business. It is a lot of money and it really underlines how Spain is a country for sporting events of all areas and types and that makes us very proud. We have 65 sports federations. In this case there is a very specific sailing tourism, which is very important, and we are very proud to be part of that great family.

What is your impression regarding the infrastructure and the possibilities of holding large events in the Rías Baixas and, in this case, in the Pontevedra estuary?

The possibilities are considerable. The fact of having an European Championship here in 2020 and then a World Cup in 2021 is very important for us because it gives a further global reference, although we already are. Even at this the Spanish Cup, there have been many overseas teams here this weekend, which is a bonus already for us. They come here because we have the best sailing conditions, the means and it is a renowned location, a place that helps to get the best out of every athlete.

In addition, the town of Sanxenxo is committed to these events, thanks also to the great yacht club behind it, the Real Club Náutico de Sanxenxo, which pushes and helps to keep sailing at the top in terms of profile. This is a historic yacht club that has known how to adapt and maintain itself and it has a very important structure too.

Apart from the work that is being done by the yacht club, it is also very important the work that the sailing federations, both the Spanish and the Galician one, have done. They are our hands in their range of action and they help to make grassroots sport grow and also help the athletes since they start to compete until they reach the highest level. That coordination between organizations is very important.

Congratulations because you make Spanish sport great!