There has been a bit of a lull in the land of Open 60 racing since the end of the Vendee Globe. The buffeting suffered by many well-funded teams at sea has been mirrored in the sponsorship climate and the campaign cycle has seen several well known deals ending and others due to end shortly.
An Open 60 is an expensive piece of kit to be lying around not doing anything. Some are being used for corporate work, some are entered into races like the Round the Island Race and Artemis Challenge, but these races don’t deliver the ROI of a big offshore race.
Sailing must be one of the only sports where competing promoters knowingly run simultaneous events for a finite group of competitors. Imagine running the London and New York marathons on the same day or two F1 championships running side by side bidding for teams.
The Barcelona World Race, has launched a campaign that will culminate in the start of its second edition, on 31 December, 2010. While the event alternates with the Vendee Globe, it clashes with the Velux 5 Oceans and the Route du Rhum.
Organisers are promoting the race in a gap – being a ‘two-up’ challenge linking the two worlds of the solo Vendée and the fully crewed Volvo Ocean Race, but filling in boxes in a matrix can only support so many races. The combinations of; solo, crewed, double-handed, non-stop, stopping, open, one-design, monohull, multihull mean you could have hundreds of races all with a ‘justifiable’ niche.
The Barcelona World Race does have much going for it including sponsorship and backing from the most commercially savvy bunch of promoters – OC Group.
The event boasts 2 main sponsors, 24 supporting partners, official suppliers and four institutional patrons and the future is laid out with the 3rd race set 2014. The race’s main sponsors are the Barcelona brewery and soft drinks company Estrella Damm, and Renault Spain.
The race is adapting to a new reality brought about by economic recession, the Barcelona World Race 2010 has defined two clear objectives in its general strategy:
- To set up the necessary resources and strategies to facilitate the funding of the skippers’ campaigns
- To optimize the return on investment for all team sponsors.
The Velux 5 Oceans Race has announced generous cash incentives for sailors competing in the next edition. As the Barcelona World Race has to compete for the same set of skippers and boats they are also offering support packages to lure entrants. A central element in this strategy will be the financial, logistic and communication support package set up to enable teams to cut the cost of their campaigns by up to 20%. The details of this support package will be announced in the ‘pre-Notice of Race’, to be published on Thursday 18 June.
The good news is that the expensive Open 60 boats will not be lying around in marinas in 2010. If they can find sponsors then there are events that can deliver returns in offshore racing. The bad news is that resources, money, teams and audiences are going to be split between competing events which may lead to a worse product all round.