Remy Cointreau-owned firm Mount Gay Rum has more than doubled UK sales in the past five years. The company also anticipates growing more than 10% ahead of the dark and golden rum market in the country during 2006.

Mount Gay, which has a historically strong affiliation with the sailing community, will invest GBP1.5m (US$2.8m) on marketing in Britain this year - with a "substantial" amount spent on this week's Cowes 2006 sailing regatta.

In return, the company hopes to see its Mount Gay Eclipse and Mount Gay Extra Old brands grow by 11% this year, way ahead of the 0.6% growth forecast for the UK rum market according to AC Nielson.

UK sales have escalated from just over 10,000 cases of 8.4l in 2001 to more than 25,000 cases last year, and more is expected for 2006.

The senior marketing manager of Mount Gay's distributor Maxxium UK, Eileen Livingston, told just-drinks yesterday(3 August) that the company's adventure platform could be transferred to other adventure sports in the future.

She said: "Mount Gay is targeting a very small and close community, but if ten sailors drink our rum they will tell ten other friends, creating a degree of momentum. We are relatively small within the UK but something like Cowes lets us move onto bigger things.

"It is not just a case of sponsoring the event, we are also speaking to sailors and competitors, with the intention of helping them improve their performance. A few other companies have dipped their toe in the water but found they are not really right for sailing."

The distillery linked up with the UK Sailing Academy for promotional activity at Cowes, and set up its own marina HQ and cocktail bar.

Gin-based summer beverage Pimm's and Italian premium beer brand Peroni also had a strong marketing presence at the sailing event.