New-style Volvo Ocean Race is a winner
AMSTERDAM – The new-style Volvo Ocean Race is a success story. The 2014-15 event saw competitors duel in identical Volvo Ocean-65 sailboats resulting in a closer, fairer and much cheaper contest. “The one-design means no longer the richest team wins, but the smartest,” Tom Touber, the VOR’s Dutch chief operating officer, tells De Waterkampioen, the Netherlands’ leading boating magazine.
He says the one-design racer was a godsend for sponsors facing budgets cuts of up to 60% in the pre-race recession. With identical boats “we expected a race with more suspense than before, but not one this close,” says Touber. In previous VORs, participants tended to scatter over the horizon. In the 2014-15 race, the 7 contestants could often see each other.
The VOR sees new crews emerging. Long-distance sailors who can steer a boat across an ocean safely have long been favored. “We are seeing a shift to Olympic sailors,” says Touber, i.e. intensely trained, competitive sailors “who can get the most speed out of a boat.” The VOR is held every 3 years. The 2014-15 race (mid-October, 2014 – mid-June, 2015) was won by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Team Brunel of the Netherlands placed 2nd.
Want to join the 2017-18 VOR? Or host a race stopover? You have until Nov. 1, 2015 to buy a license (€50,000). Here some other costs to consider, courtesy of De Waterkampioen:
_ Boat (€4.5 million), registration, crew, travel, hotels, insurance etc: €12 million. If you buy a VOR-65 of the 2014-15 race (€2 million) total drops to under €10 million.
_ Main sponsors tend to fund up to 70% of costs, i.e. €7 million across 3 budget years. They generate a “media value” totaling as much as €80 million per race.
_ Hosting a stopover can cost €9 million but is also an earnings opportunity: hotel overnightings, concerts, day visitors and free media exposure.
The VOR abandoned the formula whereby teams design and develop their own race boats to curb spending and duplication of costs so as not to scare away investors.