The Race's organising committee has decided to postpone the start of the crewed non-stop race around the world for 2004. The Race had been scheduled to start in Marseilles next year on the 29 of February.
This decision, made together with the City of Marseilles and the event's partners, is the result of the current economic climate which has changed the initial prospects of the event.
The Race and its partners have decided to take the time necessary to reflect on these issues in order to announce, before the end of the year, the decisions to be taken and the event's new schedule.
Bruno PEYRON: "We have ambitious objectives for the second edition of The Race and the conditions necessary to meet those objectives have not come together. That is why we have decided to modify the priorities of our programme in order to focus ourselves straight away on the long term and avoid exposing our partners to unnecessary risks.
We wanted to organize the second edition of The Race in under 3 years in order to avoid conflicting with other events in 2005.
We could have safely set our sights on 2006 but we attempted to accelerate the process. Although this timing suited the event's organisers, it turned out to be a little too short for some of the challengers."
The Mayor of Marseilles, Monsieur Jean-Claude GAUDIN, reconfirmed his support and loyalty to The Race: "We would like to thank Bruno Peyron and his team for having made the right decision to postpone the start of The Race. We agree with him that, under the current circumstances, it is wiser to readjust the timing of the event. We renew the expression of the wholehearted support of the City of Marseilles in order to build together the future of this exceptional event"
What are the main reasons for postponing the event ?
First of all, there is genuine uncertainty right now as to both the respect by certain challengers of their undertakings and the capacity of other challengers to ensure their operating budgets.
Such is the case for Kingfisher II, whose team Offshore Challenges has not confirmed its undertakings given in the spring of 2002.
It is also true for Team Adventure (Cam Lewis) and Maiden II (ex Club Med) who are still looking for commercial partners. The difficulties encountered by challengers is in large part due to the complexity of the current economic climate, which has penalized the development of major projects.
Secondly, there is a probable divergence of objectives between various challengers, which has led some of them to refocus on their individual projects instead.
That is the case for Steve Fossett who, in the absence of his partner PlayStation, and therefore without any major media impact objective to satisfy, decided to make an attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy.
The same is true for Olivier de Kersauson who, as of today's date, has not confirmed his decision to take part in The Race or to set out on a new attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy.
It is also worth mentioning that this year has been a singular one for Marseilles, which has the exceptional opportunity of being one of the candidate cities for the America's Cup. This fact has mobilised an enormous amount of energy in the "cite phocéenne".
In light of these circumstances and with less than 6 months to go before the start, the event organizers prefer to postpone the 2004 edition of The Race and to concentrate straight away on the future of the event and its development, so that the fastest sail boats in the world are able to give full rein to a programme in keeping with their ambitions.