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The Ocean Race: Major announcement imminent - believed to be 12 month postponement

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 16 Jul 00:51 BST 16 July 2020
The Ocean Race European Tour corporate sailing event in Kiel, Germany, June 19. © Ainhoa Sanchez / The Ocean Race

Organisers of The Ocean Race are expected to make a major announcement with the next 24 hours.

It is believed to be a postponement of the start of the race, formerly the Volvo Ocean Race for a year.

The move was foreshadowed in the normally well-informed Italian newspaper La Stampa, with a story that the finishing port of Genoa.

The autotranslated report says that the Municipality of Genoa has been advised of a decision to shift the final stop from June 2022 to June 2023.

The proposal is to stage a European Tour in 2021 to maintain momentum in The Ocean Race.

The move is a reaction to COVID19 virus and its multi-headed implications for the event and professional side of the sport.

While the speculation is that the move is driven by uncertain commercial sponsorship situation, the reality is that many destinations do not yet have in place policies which will allow vessels, including race yachts, through a closed border.

The Ocean Race is to be run in two divisions for the VO65 One Design used in the last two editions, and with the new fully crewed IMOCA60 division which is expected to attract the professional elite of the sailing world.

While there are some boats in build, the deferred start date will probably free up IMOCA 60's from the Vendee Globe which gets underway on November 8, 2020, and should conclude in February 2021. Under the former program only seven months would remain until the start of the originally scheduled race - which is minimal to refit a dual-use IMOCA 60 to take it from being a singlehander to fully crewed with five sailors and one Onboard Media crew.

The Ocean Race owners' philosophy is heavily predicated around the re-use of IMOCA60's and for teams to be able to either own or charter IMOCA 60's for multiple events.

The story in La Stampa by Fabio Pozzo can be read by clicking here.

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