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Promising future for the IMOCA class

by Antoine Robin on 7 Dec 2013
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The third edition of the Barcelona World Race will close the first season of the newly defined programme for the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship which was launched today. The next Barcelona World Race will be preceded by a double-handed transatlantic race between New York and Barcelona starting on 1st June 2014.

Andor Serra CEO of FNOB (Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing), outlined the plans for the third edition of the regatta, which will depart from the capital city on the 31st December 2014.

The Barcelona World Race is heading into its third edition as a fully consolidated event. This is sailing's biggest double-handed round the world challenge, with no stops and no external assistance. It is an ISAF Major Event, and will round off the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship with a score coefficient of eight.

Andor Serra presented some of the new competition features for this edition; the route will go around the south of New Zealand, and as for the rules only three stopovers on land will be allowed (eight days in total) and shall each incur a 24-hour penalty.

Serra announced that the sponsorship objectives have already been reached as the main sponsors, Estrella Damm, Renault and Johnson & Johnson had all been keen to renew their vote of confidence on the event.

The CEO of the FNOB also commented on the development of the line-up: 'The GAES and Mare teams have already signed up and Hugo Boss will be presented today, here at this stand. With one year to go to the regatta itself we are estimating a line-up featuring some nine to fourteen entries, roughly the number we had for the first and second editions of the race'.

The Barcelona World Race serious commitment to the environment and the importance of its scientific facet through the close collaboration with UNESCO were also highlighted. On the communication side, Serra underlined the reinforcements made in terms of international distribution of the event TV and media coverage, as set out in the agreement signed with ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation).

The race has conveyed the spirit and traditions of ocean sailing to Barcelona and Spain, and a new and exciting feature of this third edition will be the installation of the Barcelona World Race Village on the city's famous Ramblas, which aims to maximise public participation levels.

Sir Keith Mills, Founder and Chairman of OSM (Open Sports Management), presented this new brand today. The Ocean Masters World Championship will recognize and celebrate the skippers of the IMOCA 60 race boats, true heroes of the sea, by deciding a new World Champion every two years. The Ocean Masters brand brings together all of the existing IMOCA races under one banner with plans to add new events over time.

The objective of OSM from the outset was to structure a consistent and exciting calendar of events for the IMOCA Class, with a strong focus on international expansion, to attract new teams from around the world and create new events on all of the oceans of the world, to provide value and return to existing and new stakeholders.

Luc Talbourdet, President of the IMOCA Class, presented his views, 'IMOCA is today the most dynamic of classes in oceanic racing in terms of size of fleet and active skippers, and its popularity in France is uncontested. It is vital that we take the class to a new level in order to give it the success that it deserves on an International scale. I am certain that our partnership with OSM will enable us to achieve this objective quickly.'

Sir Keith Mills, President of OSM, added: 'The creation of Ocean Masters, a new, strong and powerful brand for the IMOCA Class, will allow us to attract new commercial partners, with an opportunity for one of those partners to become the Title Sponsor of the Ocean Masters World Championship, and by doing that we plan to attract further investment into the class and to give the public increased access to the amazing footage from these ‘masters of the ocean’.

To build up a large global sporting circuit like Formula 1, we need to offer large numbers of fans and followers a truly global circuit of events, where they can follow the progress of the class at each stage and event, supporting their skipper or team, and take part in the incredibly emotional intensity that attracts these amazing men and women to this sport.'

The objective of the Ocean Masters circuit is to award and recognise a new World Champion every two years, and the programme is organised around two round the world races which include the Barcelona World Race (double handed in 2014/15) and the Vendee Globe (solo in 2016/17).

This first cycle will commence with a new double-handed transatlantic race, between New York and Barcelona, to be known as the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race. After one week of racing in front of the Manhattan skyline, the start will take place at the foot of the Statue of Liberty on the 1st June 2014.

A large international fleet of IMOCA 60s will set off and attempt to break the record of 12 day 6 hours 3 minutes and 48 seconds set in 2010 by Team Estrella Damm (Alex Pella, Pepe Ribes and Stan Schreyer) on the occasion of the first NY-BCN Transoceanic Sailing Record organized by FNOB. In the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race the FNOB will collaborate with OSM in the logistics and organization of the regatta.

Alex Thomson, skipper of the Hugo Boss Team, commented: 'The IMOCA Class is already a really successful class, and one that I personally love competing in, but for sure with OSM onboard and the new Ocean Masters brand it can only become better and add value to all of the teams, skippers and sponsors already involved in the class'

The IMOCA Class in value numbers*

4,309 accredited media 816 TV hours
52,647 printed articles 4.6m event attendees
Media value of €411 M Global economic value : €224 M

* Value figures for the period 2008-2012 from existing events (Vendee Globe, Barcelona World Race, Transat Jacques Vabre and Route Du IMOCA website
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