by Oliver Dewar
The Global Ocean Race (GOR), one of sailing’s greatest challenges, is set to receive a major lift for its third round-the-world event for Class40 yachts, now scheduled to start in September 2014.
Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo thunder towards the finish line and second place - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
Organisers of the Class40 Association-endorsed race announced today that in order to raise its profile and bring it the attention the event deserves, they have taken three important steps:
• Brought in a team of experts in media, ocean racing promotion and marketing
• Expanded the number of classes in the race, so that entries can now be single-handed, two-handed or fully-crewed
• Delayed the start by one year to take full advantage of the new arrangements
Meanwhile, they have agreed a number of sponsorship deals for the event and can already confirm a strong entry interest from at least eight solid Class40 projects.
'We have successfully completed two Class40 round-the-world races,' said Josh Hall, the GOR Race Director and CEO, 'but we believe it is time for the race to fully evolve. To that end, we have created a new management structure bringing in some of the most experienced people in media, sponsorship and the marketing of a truly global yacht racing event. To permit our new team the appropriate timeframe to realise the planned levels of media and funding, we have decided to delay the race until 2014.'
Hall says that the new team’s aim is to make round-the-world ocean racing more accessible. 'Our boats cost a fraction of those in the other major ocean races, opening up the thrill and adventure of sailing at speed through the Southern Ocean to a whole new generation of skippers and crew,' explains Hall. 'In times of recession, I believe this will attract both aspiring ocean sailors and fully-experienced yachtsmen. Our boats now regularly average the speeds that Maxi Yachts in the Whitbread were doing just over a decade ago. It offers the best of sailing on a budget that many more can afford. Crucially, it also allows sponsors, who have been leaving the sport due to the massive costs, to return.'
Central to the new organisation will be a Steering Board, created to boost the organisation that supports the event. Members include a top TV producer who has overseen Olympic coverage for the BBC among others; a former CEO of three major broadcasting organisations; a leading public relations professional; a specialist in sponsorship fund raising and management and a commercial director with extensive international experience. Four of the five have already been contracted and each has considerable experience in ocean racing promotion, marketing and media coverage. The names of the Board and full details of the changes will be released in the New Year.
'These appointments bring one of the sport’s most experienced and successful teams to the GOR and justify our delaying the start of the race,' added Hall.
From the skippers planning to race, the overall reaction has been supportive. 'For the Celox Sailing Team, the rescheduling is a welcome opportunity for further training and refinement and we are delighted to hear of the new weight brought into the organisation,' said Akilaria Class40 Gust Buster skipper, Gottfried Possl.
Global Ocean Race website