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Henri-Lloyd 2020 LEADERBOARD

The Ocean Race confirms 12 month postponement - aligns with 50 year anniversary

by The Ocean Race 16 Jul 14:34 BST 17 July 2020
Leg 11, from Gothenburg to The Hague, start day 21 June, 2018. © Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race

The 14th running of the world's toughest test of a team in sport will start in October 2022 with a Europe Race being considered for summer 2021.

Organisers of The Ocean Race have confirmed the next edition of the Race will start from Alicante, Spain, in October 2022 and finish in Genova, Italy, in the summer of 2023 during the 50th jubilee anniversary year of the Race.

For the first time in race history, further event timings have also been confirmed through the next 10 years and a feasibility study is currently under way for a European race to take place next summer.

The change to the start date for the next edition of the round the world race follows a strategic planning process and consultations with stakeholders to determine the best path forward in a sporting landscape impacted by COVID19.

"Since 1973, The Ocean Race has been one of the toughest challenges in sport. Winning teams have showcased that proper preparation is the foundation for success. We now find ourselves in unprecedented times and our first priority is with all those who have been and continue to be affected by the pandemic," said Richard Brisius, the Race Chairman of The Ocean Race.

"As an international sporting competition, with stops on six continents, we are deeply connected to the changing reality of sailors, teams, cities and partners across the world. We have worked positively together over the past months to develop a stable and improved future, and this has led to the first ever 10-year plan of The Ocean Race, a 10-year plan adapted to the new reality in an innovative, sustainable and responsible way.

"This provides improved opportunities for sailors, teams, cities and partners to prepare properly for The Ocean Race and it gives fans something outstanding to look forward to over the coming years."

The next edition of the Race, as planned, will be open to fully-crewed entries in the V065 and IMOCA60 class.

"Winning The Ocean Race is still a big ambition for me," said Olympic and America's Cup champion Peter Burling, who competed in the event for the first time in 2017-18. "I know how much effort and planning and preparation it takes to put together a successful campaign. Building in this extra year ahead of the next race increases the likelihood of strong, well-prepared teams being ready on the start line in Alicante. I think this is a well-considered and good decision."

"The world has changed with COVID-19 and again we will witness the resilience of sailors, stakeholders and organisers of The Ocean Race," said Chris Nicholson, co-founder, W-Ocean Racing, and a six-time veteran of the Race. "We have all lost significant time right at the crucial moment and this change is the right move. This will now allow us the time again to re-focus our efforts and be part of this great event."

The full, award-winning sustainability programme, a core pillar of the Race, will continue to grow under the banner of Racing with Purpose. The Ocean Race Summits, the Education and Science Programmes are all being enhanced and integrated into all facets of the organisation of the Race.

"As the Founding Partner of the Sustainability Programme and Premier Partner of The Ocean Race, we stand in support of the decision to postpone the start by twelve months in response to the COVID-19 crisis," said Jeremy Pochman, co-founder and CEO of 11th Hour Racing. "The impacts of this pandemic are myriad. 11th Hour Racing is committed to working with The Ocean Race and its partners to remain nimble and adapt to these challenges — with the goal of running a safe and sustainable Race in 2022-23."

Previously announced host cities and partners for the next edition of the Race will be involved for the 2022-23 event. Volvo Cars, Premier Partner of The Ocean Race, offered its unqualified support.

"We have been involved in The Ocean Race in one form or another for over 20 years now," said Björn Annwall, Leader EMEA in the Executive Management Team at Volvo Cars. "We know the Race as the biggest challenge in sport. It attracts only the very best, where those best-prepared come out as winners. It is a responsible and insightful decision to adjust to the new realities now, as it allows for the athletes and other parties to prepare properly.

"For us The Ocean Race is more relevant than ever because the ocean is really symbolising communication and travel and trade, and all of those are powerful ways of creating cultural understanding."

The process of arriving at these decisions involved outreach and consultation with stakeholders.

"We have been looking at the future of The Ocean Race and taking in honest feedback from our stakeholders around the world for some time now," added Johan Salén, the Managing Director of the Race. "Moving the start date allows our host cities, teams and partners the time they need to best prepare for the next Race.

"But at the same time, we understood stakeholders were looking for confirmation of a longer term plan and enhancements to the Race, which we are also developing."

The next three editions of The Ocean Race will be fully-crewed, around the world yacht races and will take place in 2022-23, in 2026-27 and in 2030-31.

Meaningful racing will be scheduled in between editions, and a European event in the summer of 2021, for IMOCA 60s and VO65s, and potentially other classes of fast racing yachts, is currently being considered for feasibility by the organisation along with registered teams and stakeholders.

"The Ocean Race Europe has been a vision and dream of ours and many others for a long time," said Richard Brisius. "We imagine a race and festival for everyone that will inspire and unify across Europe. A celebration with engaged fans and athletes achieving the extraordinary while driving change for a healthier planet.

"We have been planning for The Ocean Race Europe to be held in between editions of The Ocean Race since we took responsibility for the Race last year. Originally we had been considering starting this in 2023, but we will now work with teams, cities, and partners to decide whether we should do it in the summer of 2021."

For the 10 international host cities of The Ocean Race, the new calendar provides confirmation and clarity for the future.

Genova Mayor Marco Bucci said that hosting the finish of the Race in 2023 would be beneficial for the Italian stop, which is coming to the country for the very first time.

"Hosting the Grande Finale of The Ocean Race is something I know all of Genova and Italy is looking forward to," Mayor Bucci said. "We had a small taste of how exciting it is when Genova and The Ocean Race work together when we hosted the first of The Ocean Race Summits back in September of last year.

"From our side, I know everyone involved with delivering this project for Genova will take advantage of the extra time we now have to ensure we have a truly special experience in 2023, which also happens to be the 50-year jubilee anniversary for the Race.

"At the same time, we are supportive of the idea of a European race in 2021. I think it could be an important event that helps promote unity, creating connections and inspiration as we emerge from the current crisis and rebuild. We will participate with all interested stakeholders in a feasibility study for a European race in 2021 as we believe it could be a good showcase for Genova and our maritime heritage."

The Ocean Race remains committed to its heritage as the premiere fully-crewed offshore race on the sporting calendar. The new dates, along with other enhancements for the next edition of the Race will ensure the event has a sustainable future on and off the water.

Sailors past and present are onside with the changes.

Torben Grael, former race winning skipper and Vice-President of World Sailing: "The Ocean Race is important to me personally, and as one of the greatest events on the sailing calendar, so I'm pleased to see that the organisers have taken this decision. As a sport, we benefit when our pinnacle events are at their strongest and this will allow for more well-prepared teams to be on the starting line in 2022."

Antoine Mermod, President, IMOCA: "The Ocean Race is the best way for IMOCA campaigns to achieve value for their sponsors, while also helping to enhance the reputation of the IMOCA Class around the world, by engaging with a more global audience. Throughout our collaboration with The Ocean Race we have always looked at what we can do together to ensure the best race possible with strong IMOCA participation. These changes, including a potential European race next summer, and an extended race calendar through 2030, are a positive step. For IMOCA campaigns there is now a schedule of confirmed ocean races every two years - one solo, one crewed - and this is the perfect balance for our sailors, sponsors and fans around the world."

Charlie Enright, skipper, 11th Hour Racing Team: "Given the current environment, it makes a lot of sense to postpone the race. An extra year will provide additional time for health and safety conditions to improve. The added time should also allow race organisers to work closely with the IMOCA class on the format to achieve the best possible race and maximize the entries. Our goals haven't changed -- we're aiming to be at the start for the next edition of The Ocean Race with the strongest possible team, proving to the world that sustainability is not a compromise."

Paulo Mirpuri, Team Principal, Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team: "We have been in close contact with The Ocean Race to ensure the changes we are speaking about together today will have a positive impact for teams and sailors and our stakeholders. At the Mirpuri Foundation it is important to us that this race and all of our activities around it are positive and sustainable and I believe we are on the right path. We look forward to building our race team so we can return to the water stronger than ever."

Bianca Cook, skipper, NZ Ocean Racing: "All of us here at New Zealand Ocean Racing are grateful for more certainty with the updated plans for the next edition of The Ocean Race. For our team, the extra time will allow us to get our VO65 sailing here in New Zealand and to engage with our local communities around the country as we hold crew trials and training before returning to Europe."

Boris Herrmann, skipper, Team Malizia: "The Ocean Race is a truly international platform unlike any other, and we hope very much to develop a project around it. These changes are positive as it means The Ocean Race becomes a real possibility as a new challenge to take in the year following the Vendée Globe. It is a completely different kind of event, more international, fully crewed, but very interesting for me as a sailor and commercially to take to our partners."

Several of the host cities are comfortable with the decision to delay the event for a year.

José Ulisses Correia e Silva, Prime Minister, Cabo Verde: "As the first ever host city in West Africa, Mindelo remains steadfast in its commitment to bringing The Ocean Race to Cabo Verde in 2022. This is an unprecedented opportunity to energize our tourism and maritime economies, and we will take advantage of the extra time to improve infrastructure, boost local sponsorship, and do everything we can to ready our islands in welcoming the world. Onward!"

Bruce Parker-Forsyth, CEO of WorldSport, the stopover delivery partner for Cape Town: "Over past editions we've seen the positive impacts The Ocean Race can have on Cape Town and the region. Taking an extra year will help to ensure that all of us can enjoy the type of event we'll be proud to host at the V&A Waterfront."

LiLi, Managing Director of CSCI, the delivery partner of The Ocean Race in China: "In the most recent development plan, Shenzhen has been proposed as a global ocean centre. Today, the city is 'connecting the world with sailing' by actively holding on-water activities and welcoming top-level international events, like The Ocean Race, to Shenzhen. We are very excited to host the next edition of The Ocean Race here in Shenzhen and we know it will be an unforgettable experience for local fans as well as an opportunity to continue the development of the sailing culture in China."

Mr. Volnei Morastoni, Mayor of Itajaí: "The Ocean Race left an immeasurable legacy for the city of Itajaí, in its past three editions. Hosting the event means cultural, sporting and economic growth alongside sustainability awareness. We look forward to welcoming the Race again in 2023."

Mr. Jacob Bundsgaard, Mayor of Aarhus: "Together with Sport Event Denmark, Aarhus is looking forward to welcoming the spectacular event in 2023. We will have to wait another year for the unique experience, but it is understandable that this worldwide event, visiting ten cities and countries over nine months, is affected by the current international crisis."

Hilbert Bredemeijer, Deputy Mayor for Sports, The Hague: "We perfectly understand the decision to postpone The Ocean Race. In 2018, here in The Hague, the race had its best finish ever. We will do our best to welcome it again in 2023. The fact that there will be a five year gap, makes the event even more unique and something to look forward to! We will see you in 2023!"

www.theoceanrace.com

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