This race will see some of the world's best professional sailors from both solo and fully crewed disciplines coming together every four years to compete against each other in teams of two, racing 25,000 miles over three months across the planet's most hostile and challenging oceans in high-performance IMOCA Open 60 monohulls. Never before has a two-handed, non-stop around the world race been staged and there has never been a crewed, non-stop round the world race in monohulls.
The Spanish city of Barcelona will be both the starting and finishing port for this new race. The city of Barcelona is more than just a host port but a true partner in the venture. A new organization known as the Fundació per la Navegació Oceànica de Barcelona (FNO) has been established to promote the city via the sport of sailing and the Barcelona World Race is their first project to be announced. The FNO incorporates the City of Barcelona, the Port Authority, the Chamber of Commerce, the Trade Show organizing company (including the Boat Show) and a commercial partner. The FNO have already committed the funding required to stage the first edition of the race in 2007/08 and put core funding guarantees in place for a further two races to be held every four years.
The first edition of the race will be known simply as the Barcelona World Race. The Barcelona World Race is a joint venture between the FNO and event management company, OC Events that also owns The Transat (ex-OSTAR), and is part of the OC Group established in 1997 by Mark TURNER and nominee for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award Dame Ellen MACARTHUR (GBR)
The Barcelona World Race will see sailors from the two worlds of solo sailing events, such as the famous Vendée Globe, and crewed events, like the Volvo Ocean Race, coming together to race in a unique format. The timing of this new global race also acts as a prelude to the Vendée Globe, to be held over the winter of 2008/09, providing an opportunity for skippers to fully test themselves and their boats before their solo circumnavigation; and the Barcelona World Race also sits comfortably within the Volvo Ocean Race cycle so opening up another venture for these professional sailors to take their own ambitions to another level.
The prologue qualification event is planned to include stops in Great Britain and France, reuniting the fleet in Barcelona mid-October 2007.
The sailors will race onboard Open 60 boats, the same boats that are raced in the solo Vendée Globe. The design of new boats conceived for this race is expected to be fundamentally the same as the solo boats, and the two-handed format coupled with recent changes in the IMOCA 60 rule is expected to maintain the project budgets at the current attractively low levels. These high-performance racing boats have led the field in design and technology, pioneering the use of canting keels. The Open 60s are managed by the Monohull Open Class International Association (IMOCA). There are presently more than 25 measured Open 60 boats, and seven newly funded projects in progress with many more planned. The Barcelona World Race aims to attract the best of the existing Open 60 campaigns, as well as attract new skippers into the class. Importantly, the Barcelona World Race has already been sanctioned as part of the IMOCA 2007/08 calendar and will form part of the point-scoring IMOCA World Championship.
Official entry lists for the Barcelona World Race will open on 1 February 2006. A wide range of professional offshore sailors have expressed their desire to compete in this event including Britain's Alex THOMSON and Mike GOLDING; Spain's Guillermo ALTADILL; Kiwi skipper, Mike SANDERSON; France's Jean-Pierre DICK and Sébastien JOSSE: two-times Volvo Ocean Race winner Ross FIELD (NZL): America's Cup sailor Jonathan MCKEE (USA); and Dutch sailors Roy HEINER and Volvo Ocean Race MoviStar skipper, Bouwe BEKKING.