Dutch VOR entry remains in the balance
Two campaigns seek to scrape together €15 million for a Dutch entry in the next Volvo Ocean Race. The Team Heiner sailing events organization is halfway there. VOR veteran Bouwe Bekking, is mum on his campaign. Meanwhile, at VOR headquarters in Alicante, Spain, race organizers wonder if Dutch companies know their round-the-world event is a bargain compared to funding a mid-tier, top division football club or that over-the-top America’s Cup.
The lack of corporate enthusiasm is surprising for a country that holds the VOR record of 3 wins. And that as recently as 2009, entered 2 boats (photo).
VOR Chief Operating Officer Tom Touber has been quoted as saying there is a 50-50 chance of a Dutch entry. He told the Nauticlink website “secondary sponsors” were ready to take the plunge if either Dutch campaign can rope in a main funder. Bekking has told the daily De Telegraaf he is in talks with 2 Dutch companies, but negotiations are touch-and-go, saying, “As long as there is no contract, there is zip.” Roy Heiner says he has “found a sponsor, a foreign company, to come up with €8 million.” Which puts hium halfway.
VOR organizers count on at least 6 entries in their 2014-15 race. All will sail identical 65-ft racers to keep costs down and avoid an America’s Cup-type spending orgy. To date, there are 3 confirmed teams. VOR organizers hope for additional commitments from Spain, the Netherlands, China, England, New Zealand and /or the United States. “We will get at least 6 good teams at the starting line,” says Touber.
Touber told Nauticlink that the VOR remains misunderstood. “In payback terms people view the VOR positively,” said Touber. He was at pains to defuse the common perception that joining the VOR is a pricey undertaking. “Many still think it costs tens of millions! But if you lease or use the new VO65 boat for 2 races then your total budget over 3 years will be 10 million euros. That’s €3.5 million per year!” He said that compared very favorably to funding a mid-level team in the Dutch top soccer division for a year.