Polo by the Sea – a different take on polo Down Under-style
It takes a healthy dose of Aussie flair to take something that could traditionally be seen as the elitist Sport of Kings and turn it into an extravaganza that introduces the sport of polo to a much wider audience, while promoting professional polo players and attracting new players to the game. Whereas some polo events, such as the Cartier Queen’s Cup, are steeped in tradition and predominantly attended by the aristocracy and wealthy upper class, Polo by the Sea however positions itself at the other end of the spectrum by bringing us a typical ‘Hamptons vibe’. Introducing a casual front row beer garden dubbed the ‘Polo Lounge’ with live music and DJs, the popular ‘Fashion in the Field’ contest, swimwear fashion parades and bare-chested male therapists for complimentary shoulder massages, this definitely isn’t your typical polo event. Opulence, glamour and stylish entertainment are still perfectly executed though with seaplane transfers, front row VIP tables, designer briefed social photographers and a plethora of sponsors who are keen to partner up with this unique polo frenzy where the competitors mingle with the crowd.
Polo by the Sea actually is the sister event to the award winning Polo in the City, which is the brainchild of Ruki Baillieu (professional polo player) and Janek Gazecki (amateur polo player, polo journalist and former lawyer). They established Polo Enterprise Australia Pty Limited (PEA) back in 2005 and since its inception PEA has managed to significantly increase polo club membership across the country, while creating effective marketing platforms for performance and premium brands, as well as unique corporate entertainment opportunities. Not only is its Polo in the City flagship series considered as one of the best events of the year by many media outlets, but it was actually awarded ‘Best State Event’ at the 2013 Australian Event Awards. That same year Polo by the Sea was first staged on the Gold Coast’s Main Beach, with the Palm Beach edition following in the gallop in January 2015, adding a competitive dimension by also creating rivalling teams in the process.
Both Polo by the Sea events are perfectly located with the upcoming Gold Coast fixture being based at Doug Jennings Park which lies at the North end of the Spit at Main Beach Surfers Paradise. As you turn onto the Spit, the first glimpse of the yachts on the water sets the scene for a glamorous and memorable day out.
Ruki Baillieu and Janek Gazecki have managed to create an extremely successful and engaging spectator sports’ event that is also proving to be very popular with a younger audience. With the ponies going at speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour and being capable of stopping and turning on the proverbial sixpence, the crowds are guaranteed some seriously intense and extreme action. Visitors are often surprised and impressed when they first experience the fast-paced exhilarating game that polo actually is.
Where Polo by the Sea – and Polo in the City for that matter – are truly unique is in the way that spectators are constantly engaged not only by stomping the divots at half time, but also by being able to mingle and chat with the competitors or to go out on the field to pat the horses, which offers a refreshingly appealing experience when compared to most other sports. It is no wonder then that PEA’s events are quickly becoming part of Australia’s social calendar, attracting A-listers, celebrities and even royalty, in turn adding to the polo crowd watching appeal of this increasingly popular ‘spectator sport’.