The Money or The Race – Volvo Ocean Race Announces Abu Dhabi Stopover.

The reality of modern professional sport is that money dictates much of the decision making process. That’s not news, but some decisions highlight just how much the sporting agenda is reliant on commercial backers in the parts of the sport where organisers have to attract funds from third parties and not rely on rich owners.

[cleeng_content id=”547795295″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]In the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, organisers took a risk and opened new sailing markets by diverting the course of the round the world race to India and China. While the stops allowed Volvo to promote commercial vehicles to growing markets, new audiences were also exposed to sailing.

Now, with the announcement of¬† Abu Dhabi as a stopover for the 2011-2012 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, organisers have shown that they are willing to re-route the race almost anywhere to meet their commercial goals. The addition of the UAE stop will see boats having to sail up the east coast of Africa, past Somalia and close to the Iranian waters that BMW ORACLE said made the sailing of the America’s Cup in RAK impossible.

Race Director, Jack Lloyd told the UK Telegraph;

“We wouldn’t be targets in that we won’t be carrying millions of barrels of oil but kidnapping is a risk. We have systems in place for negotiations in case there is a kidnapping and the sailors will be made fully aware of the risks so they are prepared, just like last time.”

Well it is sold as life at the extreme…

The announcement signals that the Volvo Ocean Race has arrived as a major sporting event. Countries that want to promote themselves to a global audience are now saying – we need an F1 Grand Prix, we need to host a World Cup, we need to host an Olympic Games and we need to be a stopover on the Volvo Ocean Race. The news that neighbouring emirate Dubai will host the Louis Vuitton Series later this year would also have helped the VOR organisers in a very competitive region.

The agreement was signed between His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, the director general of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad.

Abu Dhabi has a well known objective to be the first place thought about when people think of the UAE. The first Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix was raced in 2009 and the growth of Etihad Airlines has shown that the emirate will do whatever it takes to raise its standing on the global stage. Little wonder then that Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad said:

“We found in Abu Dhabi an incredible synergy. This destination has a long maritime history¬†which it wishes to elevate to a new era while celebrating the achievements of the past. There was a willingness to meet our requirements, an understanding of the participants’ needs and an enthusiasm which simply stood out ahead of others.”

A boat from Abu Dhabi will also take its place on the start line of the 2011-12 race in Alicante, Spain in the autumn of next year. Team Abu Dhabi, a crew specially selected by the ADTA will campaign a new Volvo Open 70 which will be built in the UAE capital by the Abu Dhabi Mar Group.

His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi elaborated on how the race

“It is our ambition to include a UAE national in the crew who will be our ocean ambassador representing the emirate’s long seafaring heritage. The locally-constructed boat will also signal our potential as a new build and repair port, which will recall the heady days when vessels made on these shores set sail for months of pearling expeditions and proved to be among the sturdiest afloat.”

The new marina being built at Emirates Palace, the emirate’s signature hotel, will be the focal point of the host port. [/cleeng_content]