Challenge Business today announced La Rochelle as the final stopover port for the Global Challenge, bringing significant value to this prestigious round-the-world yacht race.
The penultimate stop for the event has always been an important decision for the race organisers so research to find the best possible port has been extensive and thorough.
"After a number of competitive bids from other cities in Northern Europe, in the end it came down to the fact that La Rochelle has absolutely everything we could want for the race,"
explained Sir Chay BLYTH, executive chairman of Challenge Business. "It has excellent facilities, character, history and good communication links. The people of La Rochelle are also fantastic to work with, fully embracing the ethos of the event."
La Rochelle Mayor, Monsieur Maxime BONO, commented. "La Rochelle is particularly honoured by this news and to have been chosen as the European host city. The Global Challenge stop-over 2000/01 is still very much anchored in people's memories so it's with immense pleasure to welcome the race again, together with its superb yachts and excellent crews".
"The Global Challenge will be taking place at a very important time for La Rochelle. We have been chosen as the sailing venue for the Paris bid for the Olympic Games in 2012 and the decision will be made on the 6 July 2005".
"The whole city is behind the Global Challenge 2004/05 and will contribute towards the success of this major event in the international 2005 Sailing calendar."
La Rochelle is approximately 450 miles from Portsmouth so the fleet leaving from this south-westerly part of France will have a relatively short sprint back to the homeport of Portsmouth. However, en route a number of waypoints will be integrated in order to coordinate a finish time maximising sponsor activity, media interest and spectator excitement.
This was introduced during the BT Global Challenge 2000/01 and the racing was, as predicted, extremely tight with boats in sight of each other and jostling all the way. On 30 June 2001 the first yacht finished at 14.03 and nine boats finished within 39 minutes of each other.
"La Rochelle is a beautiful, popular French fishing town and being so close to the UK will provide the perfect weekend retreat for friends and families visiting their loved ones in the race. It should be extremely busy when the race arrives, with thousands expected to visit. With the yachts berthed right in the centre of town at Bassin des Chalutiers, it will be quite a spectacle,"
Sir Chay concluded.