The battle to create the preferred round the world race for the Class40 continues. The original race, once called the Portimao Global Ocean Race, has now been renamed the Global Ocean Race and the upstart competitor is called the Portugal Ocean Race. So that’s clear for all to understand. The competitors, sponsors, media and fans will be able to work that out.
There is no doubt in our minds that the Class40 is a great platform for a round the world race. It fits nicely into the offshore hierarchy as an ‘affordable’ stepping stone to the elite Open60, but can (should) the class support two races of this type?
A couple of weeks back, the Class40 Association gave their endorsement to the Global Ocean Race founded by Josh Hall. Today, the Portugal Ocean Race has released a statement quoting several offshore sailors in support of their event.
Grant Dalton, Roger Nilson, Skip Novak and Cam Lewis all have great credentials to talk about offshore racing. Lewis, the Portugal Ocean Race’s Technical Director, who has worked with race founder Brian Hancock and CEO Larry Rosenfeld on the Team Adventure project says:
I would like to say that I think that the Portugal Ocean race is one of the most innovating and interesting new events to come along in quite some time,’ he said. ‘It’s true that offshore ocean racing is becoming increasingly expensive and the boats so technically advanced that it requires years of training at the highest levels to master some of the powerful new designs, but you can have just as much fun and adventure in a Class 40 whether you race solo, doublehanded or fully crewed around the world.’
Lewis hopes to ressurect the 110 foot maxi catamaran Team Adventure as a platform for television, support and hospitality during the Portugal Ocean Race.
Grant Dalton knows a thing or two about yacht racing, but recently has also turned his hand to creating events that fly in the face of the status quo. Dalton is one of the driving forces behind the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series which has turned into the Louis Vuitton Trophy that will see teams originally put together for America’s Cup campaigns compete in Version 5 America’s Cup boats. Dalton says:
‘My passion lies with the Volvo Ocean Race. I have seen the event grow from very humble beginnings when I raced my first race in 1981, to become the preeminent global around-the-world race,’ he said. ‘It has, however, become near impossible for ‘ordinary’ sailors to participate. The Portugal Ocean Race is just the kind of event we need to get people involved and new sponsors into the sport. It’s an affordable way to race around the world and a stepping stone for those sailors looking to ramp up their campaigns to something bigger like a Vendée Globe or Volvo Ocean Race.’
The Portugal Ocean Race will stopover in Team New Zealand’s hometown of Auckland on the way around the world.
It’s an interesting battle to watch. Looking in from the outside, the new Portugal Ocean Race seems to have a solid commercial footing, with backing from Portugal’s tourism authorities and other government support. The new website is slick, with the beginnings of social media tools and flashy online materials. There’s a long way to go, but the Portugal Ocean Race seems to be a bit short on competitors so far.
On the other hand, the Global Ocean Race has the backing of the Class 40 Association and several current sailors signed up to compete, but is currently lacking a title sponsor, though smaller deals are being done.
Perhaps there is room for both races. Though they will cannibalise each other’s sponsors, competitors and fans, if they are significantly differentiated, then there might be scope for each to have success. It seems a shame that the resources can’t be combined to create a truly great race though.