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Checking In - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012

Knut Frostad
(September 29, 2010) The Volvo Ocean Race is the ultimate mix of world class sporting competition and on the edge adventure, a unique blend of onshore glamour with offshore drama and endurance. It stands alone as the elite crewed, round the world event in the sport.

During the 2008-2009 edition, race organizers took a keen look at what the event needed to insure that future participants saw it as a fair, safe, and affordable contest. With the 2011-2012 edition to commence in Alicante, Spain on October 29, 2011, Scuttlebutt checked in with Volvo Ocean Race Chief Executive Knut Frostad to see how the plan was progressing.

  • When is the entry deadline for the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race?

  • The deadline is basically autumn 2011, so in close to one year from now. Of course to be able to build a new boat for the next race you are getting up against the clock as you need a six month period plus time to launch and test the boat. However, we have worked hard on making it attractive to race with boats from the last race, and with that in mind you can be in the water next spring and still have time to prepare well.

  • There were eight teams in the 2008-2009 race. So far for this edition, there have been five teams publically disclosed. Will there be more?

  • We know about six boats today that will be in the start line. When it comes to how many teams we will have in the end it depends on the success of those who are still in their fundraising phase, and that is quite a few. Raising the funding and putting the whole project together is as hard and challenging as doing the race and frankly we will never have the ambition that the Volvo Ocean Race should have 15-20 boats. The race has a profile as the premier offshore race for the very best, and as long as we have the very best that is the key for us. 10-12 teams would be the maximum we could even handle logistically.

    I would have a liked to see one or two more teams at this stage, but there is no secret that the sponsorship market in 2009 was and still is a tough market feeling the effect of the economic downturn we have experienced. Different to the America's Cup, the Volvo Ocean race is a 100% commercially funded event with no private owners or backers. Looking back at were the race was at this stage last race, we are in a pretty similar place. In addition to Puma, Ericsson 3 and 4, Telefonica Blue and Black and Team Russia, we had Green Dragon but they did at this stage not have the funding to actually do the race. Delta Lloyd came into the picture what would be late spring next year.

    So to answer your question, yes, as organiser we continue to support and work with the potential teams to increase the number towards 10, but if we achieve the same as last race or better we believe we have to be realistic enough to say that that is good considering the times we are living in.

    I am really pleased that we have several teams such as the Spanish and Puma returning to the race, we have two new consumer brands in Groupama and Camper joining the race which is quite uniqe in sailing and a new trend we would like to see more of in the future. The consumer brands help us reaching a wider audience and introduce sailing to new fans. To have Team New Zealand, Kenny Read, Franck Cammas, Ian Walker and the Spanish team which is yet to announce their team (but I know they will be good) going head-to-head is going to make it one of the toughest Volvo Ocean Races ever to win.

  • There have been a lot of cost cutting changes to the race. Have these changes had an impact yet?

  • I believe many of the changes have had an effect. There is no secret that we needed to reduce the cost and cap the cost of winning. By stopping two-boat testing, reducing sail testing and R&D, capping training days and many more changes I believe we have opened the race more so it's clear that you can come into the race as a new team and have a fair chance of winning. No team could do this time what Ericsson did last time with a full base setup with an extensive two-boat test program in the Canaries. I think these changes were needed and clearly we would not have been here today with six boats and many potential winning teams if we had not made these changes. However, I also believe that we need to go further on this and even get the relative cost of campaigning further down in the future.

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