The Volvo Ocean Race stopover ports are known, and now, so too are is the format and the race course. The offshore racing will be complemented by in-port races for the benefit of spectators and VIP guests, allowing sponsors to leverage their investment to the widest audience. As one sponsor said last year at the World Yacht Racing Forum “the business is done in the hospitality tent, not in the boat.”
The course and dates for the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 have now been officially announced. The racing format and stopover schedule features a number of innovations the most notable sees the event conclude with an In-Port race in the finish port of Galway. Importantly for sponsors and the media, the race will visit eight stopover ports on five continents and race through four oceans, in under nine months. This makes the Volvo Ocean Race one of the only truly global sailing properties with a physical footprint in the worlds largest and emerging markets.
Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad said there were two clear aims.
“Firstly we have reduced the time the teams are onshore and the time they have between the In-Port and the Leg Start. Traditionally the teams would change their yachts from an offshore sailing mode to an inshore racing one and back again for the Leg start. By bringing the two events together we lower the costs to them and their sponsors. We have also achieved more time for the shore crews to work on the yachts and subsequently the sailors get more time off.
“Secondly we can entertain the local public with the spectacle that is the Volvo Ocean Race on the water, for a long weekend of great racing and thrilling viewing. We hope by providing the local spectators with this on-the-water display, we will increase the public’s awareness and passion for the sport of sailing.”
The format of the stopovers goes like this:
- The Pro-Am races will be first on the agenda for the weekend, where the power of the Volvo Open 70s are showcased to the public and race guests.
- The second day sees the Volvo Ocean Race teams battle it out in two In-Port races, which count to their overall points tally. The short course of the In-Port races and the proximity to the stopover harbours and beaches, will allow the public to watch the racing up close.
- The finale to the long weekend is the Leg start.
The start and finish ports also have a revamped schedule. Alicante will have a week of festivals between the In-Port and Pro-Am race weekend and the start of Leg One to Cape Town. Galway will be the first finish city in the event’s history to stage an inshore race after the final leg.
There will be no scoring gates in this edition of the race but the fleet will still pass round some famous islands. On Leg One the fleet will pass the island of Fernando de Noronha, 200 nautical miles off the Brazilian coast as the first proper rounding mark of the race.
Due to increasing pirate attacks and hijacking off the coast of Somalia, the fleet will sail around an exclusion zone, which will be added to this area nearer race time.
On Leg Eight from Lisbon, Portugal to Lorient, France the fleet heads offshore again for a 1,940-nautical mile leg, rounding the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores before heading back towards the northwest coast of France. The Fastnet Rock is the last landmark the sailors will catch sight of before their final sprint up the west coast of Ireland to Galway.
The Volvo Open 70’s will cover over 39,270 nautical miles racing around the globe.