The Organizers of the Volvo Ocean Race have announced that the next edition of the world's premier offshore event will start in 2011.
The timing of the official start for the 2011-12 race is scheduled for late summer/autumn 2011. Details of the exact timing and route will be made in 2010.
It is the first time in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race that the next iteration of the race has been announced before the start of the current event.
The 2008-09 event held its prelude with the in-port race in Alicante on Saturday. The fleet of eight boats will set sail from Alicante on the first offshore leg to Cape Town on Saturday, October 11.
The decision to announce the following race at this early stage is in direct response to prospective teams for the 2011-12 race requesting adequate time to prepare projects.
The Volvo Open 70 Class, the world's fastest monohull, which made its record-breaking race debut in 2005-06, will again be the class for 2011-12. The aim is to ensure further reliability and contain costs while maintaining the Volvo Open 70's status as the most technically-advanced ocean racing yacht.
The announcement was made at a press conference in Alicante. Knut FROSTAD, the CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, was joined in unveiling plans for the 2011-12 event by Leif JOHANSSON, President and CEO Volvo Group.
"I am pleased that we can today announce that the next Volvo Ocean Race [formerly The Whitbread Round the World Race] will start in 2011,"
FROSTAD said. "To be able to grow our event and continue to attract the very best sailors in the world, we need to ensure continuity.
"One of our key objectives today is to start the planning process as early as possible for the next race. This is essential for all the teams and partners involved."
Leif JOHANSSON said that Volvo was delighted to be embarking on another chapter of the world's most prestigious offshore sailing event.
"The Volvo Ocean Race is in many ways amazing. Like no other sports event it brings together the toughest of challenges and team performance. It's also truly global and reflects the ever ongoing changes in our society. To me that's a combination hard to beat,"
His words were echoed by Stephen ODELL, President and CEO Volvo Car Corporation. "I'm very pleased to announce already at this stage our commitment to enable another round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race sailing event,"
"The race is very successful in increasing brand awareness all over the world and ensuring new customers experience our fantastic product range."
In partnership with Boston Consulting Group, the current race format and structure is being evaluated with the aim of identifying areas for improved operational efficiency and innovation.
An environmental audit, in conjunction with risk management specialists DNV (Det Norske Veritas), is also in place which includes discussions with sailors, teams, sponsors and designers to safeguard the sustainability of the race.
The race organisation will hold a 2011-12 race seminar in Alicante on October 12 with over 120 delegates attending. The gathering of potential syndicates will bring together some of the biggest names in the world of sailing from the competition and commercial side.
*The Volvo Ocean Race management has also laid out the following timetable for some of the key moments to be announced in the build-up to the 2011-12 race:
November 2008 Start Port bid process
July 2009 Announcing Volvo Open 70 Rule version 3
August 2009 Publication of Preliminary Notice of Race/Race format
March 2010 Publication of Final Route
April 2010 Publication of Final Notice of Race
August-October 2011 Start, Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012
The Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 is the 10th running of this ocean marathon. It started from Alicante in Spain, on 4 October 2008 with an in-port race. Leg one, from Alicante to Cape Town starts on 11 October. The race will, for the first time, take in Cochin, India, Singapore and Qingdao, China before finishing in St Petersburg, Russia for the first time in the history of the race. Spanning some 37,000 nautical miles, stopping at 11 ports and taking nine months to complete, the Volvo Ocean Race is the world's premier yacht race for professional racing crews.
Volvo Ocean Race - www.volvoceanrace.org