Volvo Ocean Race announce measures to shape future of race
By Dev Trehan in Gothenburg
Last Updated: 19/05/17 8:57am
Volvo Ocean Race organisers have announced a range of initiatives they say will shape the future of the race for the next decade and beyond.
Currently run approximately every three years, Volvo Race CEO Mark Turner committed to race activity every year during the announcement made at Gothenburg's Volvo Museum.
With four stopovers in the inaugural race in 1973, the 2017-18 edition features 12 stops, including one at Cardiff next June. The number of stopovers could be reduced going forward following Thursday's confirmation that the bidding process for the next three editions - which will be staged every two years - is now open.
"This offers flexibility yet keeps the race truly global," Volvo Ocean Race executive director Richard Mason told Sky Sports.
"We're getting to a point where we have so many stopovers during the race that it can get confusing, but changing the cycle to two years means we could potentially visit more host cities over a four-year period.
"Over the four years maybe we can get to 16 cities, but eight in each edition of the race. It would be more manageable, a little shorter and easier to understand."
Turner said the race will break with tradition and add new routes in the next decade but not at the expense of sailing in the Southern Ocean, which represents the ultimate test for sailors.
The Volvo Ocean Race will also link-up with World Sailing to inspire future generations by making pathways for young sailors through the creation of offshore academies. Race organisers will also support World Sailing's bid for offshore racing to be one of the test events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
World Sailing president Kim Andersen said: "World Sailing's idea was to create an event at the Olympics that would showcase a major part of our sport. The Olympics would give us the possibility to showcase sailing to so many more viewers."
Thursday's announcement also saw confirmation that future Volvo Ocean Races will see teams compete in 60ft monohulls on the ocean, but the race will also see teams use one-design 'flying' catamaran for all in-port racing.
Sustainability will also be at the heart of the race in years to come, with the organisers partnering up with the United Nations Environment Clean Seas campaign, as well as marine-focused organisation 11th Hour Racing.
The race will use its global platform to help raise awareness of the scourge of plastic pollution in oceans and will lead by example by eliminating single-use plastics from race villages. There will also be a global expansion of the ocean summits staged by the Volvo Ocean Race to promote sustainability.
The 13th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race - often described as one of the toughest professional sporting events in the world - sets sail from the Spanish port of Alicante on October 22, finishing in the Dutch port of The Hague in June 2018.
Five teams - AkzoNobel, Dongfeng Race Team, MAPFRE, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and Vestas 11th Hour Racing have so far been announced, with confirmation of a sixth entry expected in the coming weeks.