Please select your home edition
Edition
GJW Direct - Multi Dinghy Insurance

Volvo Ocean Race strengthens Southern Ocean commitment

by Volvo Ocean Race on 22 May 22 May 2017
Volvo Ocean Race action from the Southern Ocean © Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team / Volvo Ocean Race

The Volvo Ocean Race will strengthen its historic connection with the Southern Ocean, and the tradition of racing around the world, while boosting its commercial offering to sponsors and Host Cities, by introducing radical changes to the racecourse, stopover formats and timing of future race activity.

The changes include a commitment to race activity in every calendar year and a proposed non-stop lap around Antarctica as a leg of the race as part of future routes that could look very different.

But Race CEO Mark Turner stressed that racing around the world, and maximising Southern Ocean miles, would continue to be at the heart of every future edition of the 44-year-old fully crewed race.

The race has launched a Host City tender process for three editions after the upcoming 2017-18 race – with a commitment to there being race activity of some kind in each and every calendar year. That marks a clear evolution from the current situation, which features a gap of over two years between races.

And while the race is committed to two more starts from its home and key partner in Alicante, Spain, some future editions could start and/or finish outside Europe, Turner revealed at special event in Gothenburg.

New racecourse options to be selected over the coming decade include a non-stop leg around Antarctica as part of a round the world course – and Turner revealed that another leg could even be a full non-stop lap around the planet.

The dates of the three races after the upcoming 2017-18 edition have not yet been decided, but the sequence could start as early as 2019. Under instruction from the Volvo Ocean Race Board, the race is investigating the feasibility of a switch to a two-year cycle from the current three-yearly one, an evolution that could align all the major events of the sport – the Volvo Ocean Race, Vendée Globe, America's Cup and Olympic Games – in a non-conflicting calendar for the first time ever.

"The race will always go around the world and the Southern Ocean will always, always be at the core of the challenge we set for the world's best professional sailors," said Turner.

"Over the next decade, we'll be bringing in a new approach to where we go, when we go and how we go there while staying true to our core DNA.

"We know that from both commercial and sporting perspectives it's vital that we have more continuity and more action – and that there is a return on investment every budget year of a Volvo Ocean Race campaign. That's why it's essential to make changes."

The 2017-18 edition, starting from Alicante on 22 October, will visit a total of 12 Host Cities in a race lasting more than eight months.

Future editions may not always visit so many markets, thereby shortening their length. The race will, however, commit to visiting North America, South America, Australasia, Greater China, and at least five major European markets at the very minimum once every other edition, so that there is commercial certainty well ahead of final routes being contracted, making it easier for 2-cycle sponsor commitments to be made to teams.

"The last few decades years have seen an often uncomfortable compromise between commercial and sporting values, with more and more markets interested in hosting the event – and we think this evolution is a great way to boost both commercial and sporting aspects going forward," said Turner.

In addition to varying the routes of the race, Host Cities will be able to choose from a range of flexible stopover formats – from a 24-48 hour pit-stop, to short-format stopovers of five days, through to longer 'two weekend' stopovers.

For the first time, potential Host Cities will be able to bid for not just for race stopovers but also for more permanent bases and activities that bring significant economic value. They include bases for Volvo Ocean Race Academies, venues for the sustainability Ocean Summits and future iterations of The Boatyard, currently based in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Boatyard is responsible for the refit of the boats between races, and will also now take on the actual finishing and assembly of both new boat fleets, to be completed in 2019. Locations for the pre-race assembly period, and the stopovers of the mandatory Leg Zero race qualifier also offer strong commercial value to potential stopovers.

"The offer to all our future partners is stronger than ever," said Turner. "These race evolutions will make the Volvo Ocean Race even more attractive to potential Host Cities, and specifically, we have a lot more inventory that they can bid for."

The Volvo Ocean Race began life as the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973 and the next decade will take in the 50th anniversary in 2023.

To mark the anniversary, a special edition race starting in 2023 may shadow part or all of the original route or there could even be a separate 'golden jubilee' race featuring race legends and older boats. Either way, the bidding process for 2023 will carry special additional value.

Related Articles

Ian Walker Interview
Musto ambassador, Volvo Ocean Race winner, Olympic medallist We speak to Musto ambassador Ian Walker about his Volvo Ocean Race win, why food and clothing are so important offshore, his views on the America's Cup, his new desk job, sailing for fun, and 20 years of the John Merricks Sailing Trust. Posted on 21 Jul
Joan Vila returns to the Volvo Ocean Race
Spanish navigator signs up with MAPFRE Joan Vila, one of the best navigators in the world, will return to the Volvo Ocean Race with MAPFRE in 2017-18, some 15 years after becoming the first Spanish sailor to win the coveted trophy. Posted on 20 Jul
Mixed crew announced for Volvo Ocean Race
Sailors with race-winning pedigree With just under 100 days to go before the Volvo Ocean Race fleet departs Alicante to tackle 45,000 nautical miles around the world, Vestas 11th Hour Racing have unveiled their crew for the 2017-18 edition. Posted on 15 Jul
The World Sailing Show - July 2017
How the America's Cup was won and more This month's World Sailing Show comes from the heart of the 35th America's Cup, Bermuda where this beautiful mid Atlantic island put on a show like no other. Flying Cup boats, Superyachts, the J-Class and the Youth America's Cup pulled the crowds. Posted on 6 Jul
Volvo Ocean Race 'obsessive' Bouwe Bekking
Back with Team Brunel for an eighth shot at glory Bouwe Bekking, the most experienced sailor in Volvo Ocean Race history, will return to skipper the seventh confirmed team in the 2017-18 edition – and give himself another chance at claiming an elusive first victory at the eighth attempt. Posted on 28 Jun
Spinlock creates custom lifejacket
For toughest race on water Spinlock will be an official race supplier to the Volvo Ocean Race, after designing a unique and custom lifejacket for the 2017-18 edition. Posted on 22 Jun
team AkzoNobel christened
Brand new Volvo Ocean Race yacht Team AkzoNobel, the Dutch ocean racing team preparing to compete in the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, has christened its newly built Volvo Ocean 65 racing yacht at a spectacular event in the Netherlands. Posted on 21 Jun
Volvo Ocean Race switches to a 2-year cycle
And a 2019 start for 14th edition The Volvo Ocean Race will switch from a 3-year to a 2-year cycle after the upcoming 2017-18 edition, a change that will provide more continuity and more commercial value for professional sailing teams, sponsors and Host Cities. Posted on 14 Jun
Dee Caffari to lead 'Turn the Tide on Plastic'
Sixth team in the Volvo Ocean Race Britain's Dee Caffari will lead 'Turn the Tide on Plastic' – a mixed, youth focused team with a strong sustainability message in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18. Posted on 13 Jun
Volvo Ocean Race: the raw story
As part of a digital-first strategy The Volvo Ocean Race will tell more of the raw story of the race than ever in 2017-18, as part of a digital-first strategy that includes a comprehensive slate of live, on-demand, broadcast TV and news output. Posted on 7 Jun