Orhan Gorbon: How to skillfully navigate between two businesses

Business, Events, People

More than 50 boats run by teams from around the word enrolled in the 18th edition of the Bosphorus regatta. Behind the successful event, celebrating not only skilled sailors, but also Istanbul’s charming architecture displayed on the shores of two continents, is Orhan Gorbon. When he is not focusing on the yachting competition he founded almost two decades ago, he is bringing the family ceramic business into the 21st century, celebrating Turkish craft and promoting local talent at world stage. How is he navigating skillfully between the two, find in the interview below.


  1. You are organising Bosphorus Cup for almost 20 years. Which are the ingredients behind its longevity? 

Sailors like longevity and patience. Sports events need time to succeed. I knew in the beginning that we needed twenty years to have a significant event and all the foundations were laid with this goal. We have had some challenges, but our will to continue has always been greater. So “dreams” and “patience” are the ingredients.

  1. How do you keep supporters close and how do you grow constantly a very diverse international community? 

Well, communication is key. We have analysed the messages and we approached the stakeholders with the right content. The sailors like to have respect for their efforts and the international community likes to see the beloved Istanbul with this angle, admiring sailing boats on the Bosphorus. With the social media it’s much easier than fifteen years ago, but we work hard on the content and the key messages. Also our venue is exceptional, so it’s easy to talk about the place of the competition.



  1. People in yachting are coming from all walks of life. What’s to be learn from a life on the sea, when one is operating in business, on a daily basis? 

Sailing teaches how to respect the people on the boat. That means that you learn to appreciate and respect others. Needless to say, everybody has a jewel in their hearts. On a daily basis, on the shore, we don’t make the full effort to find the time and the energy to search and discover the beauty in others. Whereas on the water, we do. In fact, we have to, otherwise the boat doesn’t move ahead in one piece. I could mention many other aspects about the wisdom of sailing, but I guess this one covers it all.

Bosphorus Cup 2014
  1. Why would you recommend sailing as a sport to be practiced by business &creative people? 

The relation between the wind and the sails must be perfect. The relation between the keel and the water must be perfect, too. In order to achieve this, the crew needs perfect communication. I call it triple perfection. This is magical. I recommend it, because we rarely face triple perfection in other areas of life.

  1. Beyond the annual event behind the Bosphorus Cup, you are the Gorbon Tiles owner, a hand-made ceramic brand, speaking about millennia old craft, beautifully brought into the present. How do you manage to navigate between those two successfully and promote local talent at the world stage? 

Bosphorus Cup is an asset I have developed over the years, when Gorbon Tiles, our family business, has been in serious financial difficulty. In time, I’ve managed to revive Gorbon tiles, so I have both of them alive today. For me it is very nice to manage both and grow them both into global properties. I’m always caring for people, “respect” is the key word. Whether a sailor or a ceramic artist, I always tell them: “you are more important than these institutions”. Their excitement and expectations about the future are giving me a big motivation. Bosphorus Cup and Gorbon Tiles will merge one day, to present the world a very unique platform for creativity.