Leaks, Rumours, the Media and an Italian Volvo Entry Confirmed.

It’s a brave new world in media and PR. Bit by bit, the conventions that have dictated how journalists and companies work together to effectively manipulate the flow of information are being eaten away by new technology. Information it seems, does want to be free and trying to embargo news is like holding back the sea.

It seems that for many, the embargo is dead. What was once an implied contract between those making the news and reporting the news has been ignored by self appointed bloggers and more recently platforms like Twitter have made the act of leaking news to the world incredibly easy. Now it seems the mainstream media are having to change to ‘compete’ with those breaking the stories elsewhere. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal implemented a ‘no embargo’ policy which sent corporate PR types into a tailspin. It’s a fascinating trend to watch – and you can read more about it in a great article by TechCrunch.

Sport sponsorship is actually quite a small business – not in value terms, but in terms of the number of people involved at the top level. The sailing sponsorship market is even smaller, so keeping a lid on information usually relies on the old attitudes – off the record chats and ‘gentlemenly’ understandings that information – though known to many – will not be made public. But the role-models of the sport in the world of the America’s Cup have shown that gentlemanly agreements aren’t worth the paper they are written on, so why should anyone else play the game?

7 days ago (18th September), we noticed on the Twitter feed of SailBiz.it that Fiat might be backing an Italian Volvo entry in the next race. After we ‘retweeted’ it, the story was picked up by a couple of people who dug around to see if there was any truth to it. Though there were several sites in Italian and French that suggested the story was true, no-one came out and published it.

On the 22nd of September, Elaine Bunting in her blog gave more space to the rumour which was then picked up by Scuttlebutt and various other places. Today, the official site of the Volvo Ocean Race confirms that:

An Italian campaign led by Giovanni Soldini has been officially confirmed for the 2011-12 race. Known as Italia 70, the team will race under the il tricolore with an all-Italian crew for the next two editions of the race.

The statement goes on to say that Italia 70 has acquired and will compete aboard Ericsson 3, the second generation Volvo Open 70 which carried the Nordic team’s hopes in the 2008-09 event. Italia 70 will draw on Italian yachtsmen and women to build a national offshore racing team, which will showcase Italian sailing talent.

The Italian Sailing Federation, together with Soldini, will develop the first Italian ocean sailing school in parallel with the Volvo Ocean Race.

Environmental causes will also feature prominently in the campaign. Together with a pool of contributing companies, the team will develop relationships with national universities and research centres, which will help them to test environmentally-friendly solutions from energy management to waste disposal.

The statement makes no mention of sponsors for the Italian team – however SportsPro Magazine are reporting that the Fiat deal is done, that it is a 3 year deal worth $3 Million which doesn’t sound like nearly enough money to do the Volvo Ocean Race properly.