After consulting with the different challengers at a meeting prior to the Volvo Ocean Race start in Southampton, The Race Event organising team have officially launched the next running of The Race.
The start of The Race 2 will be in February 2004, just two and half years away so as not to conflict with future America's Cups (2003, etc) and Vendée Globes (2005,etc). From now on, the event will take place every four years starting in 2004.
In addition to this an international circuit for the giant multihulls will be created with a new permanent world ranking and a Global Trophy. Even to be included in this circuit will include The Race and the greatest sailing record passages, such as the Jules Verne Trophy, the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Tea Route, New YorkSan Francisco, etc. This circuit will be established after close consultation with the principal participants in order that the interests of each challenger's syndicate are taken into consideration.
Aside from The Race a great annual or bi-annual gathering of these giant multihulls is also planned, also forming part of the official calendar of events. The main objective of this particular event will be to showcase to the general public the best of the leading edge ocean sailboat racing technology. It will also provide sponsors with an international promotional and public relations event. The first edition of "Les Voiles du Futur" will take place in a major European harbour as early as the summer of 2003.
The Race Event team is continuing its consultations with challengers prior to making any final decisions, but has already reconfirmed that the spirit, philosophy, image and values of The Race will be maintained.
As in the first edition of The Race, it will be the skippers who hand in hand with the organisers will define the event's general sporting rules.
The next edition of The Race will still take place in the 'no limits' spirit and will again be a fully crewed circumnavigation around around the three capes.
"We strongly believe in keeping the simplicity and purity of the non-stop course, just like the 'no limits' philosophy, so that boat construction is not subject to any restrictions or rules, commented Bruno Peyron, organiser of The Race 2001: "The Race 2001 taught us that budgets are smaller when no rules are imposed. We now know that a race without limits is, paradoxically, the only way to give a modestly financed syndicate a chance of beating a richer syndicate through a different design concept. "
"For 2004, we expect to see a much stronger line-up of challengers, with a corresponding increase in the level of competition and a greater equalisation of performances. Anything we can do to increase the sporting interest of the event will be done. We will modify, for instance, the penalty rules, which were too high for the previous edition and, along with the challengers, will consider the creation of strategic gateways in order to regroup the fleet and consequently intensify the sporting dimension of the event. Steve Fossett's recent transatlantic record of less than five days and the performance of Olivier de Kersauson's new giant trimaran bodes well for sporting dimension of future confrontations between The Race generation of boats."
Indeed, the fleet of giant multihulls sailing today will be confronted with the arrival of some new maxi multihulls (trimarans and catamarans of 110/120 ft), as well as maxi-monohulls of 100-150ft LOA for whom the event is likely be opened up. "These exceptional maxi-yachts, which are currently under full development, are being designed more and more for ocean record sailing and share the same values as the multihulls in terms of innovation, high technology and performance," Peyron continues. "Excluded from traditional sailing competitions by rules precisely because they are built without standardised limits (No Limits), these giant monohulls (the same size as the prestigious J-Class) have never been able to show their mettle in any ocean race worthy of their performance. The Race was built on a logic of openness and internationalisation: we want to continue expanding upon this same logic".
As for the organisation itself, The Race Event team is currently exploring joining forces with an internationally respected group in order to optimise all key sectors of the event and encourage the growth and development of the future world tour for giant multihulls. The announcement of this partnership will be made in the coming months. This partnership would also facilitate the improvement of the quality of marketing/communication programs provided to both the event's and the syndicates' partners, thereby improving the conditions over the short and medium term (2004, 2008) for the emergence of new challengers of international standing.