At the UK (Southampton) offices of Sevenstar, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) confirmed the leading Dutch specialist yacht transport company as title sponsor of the 1,802 nautical mile non-stop race beginning in Cowes, Isle of Wight on the 10th August 2014.
Eddie Warden Owen, RORC CEO and MD of Sevenstar, Richard Klabbers raise a glass to their longterm partnership and the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race.
Sevenstar sponsored the race in 2006 and 2010 when 30 yachts from nine different nations competed in a thrilling and world record breaking event. Three records were broken in what was a very memorable race, highlighted by the monohull record set by Franck Cammas' French team aboard the Volvo 70 Groupama, completing the course in five days 21hrs two minutes and 55 seconds, breaking Dee Caffari's 2009 record on Aviva by over half a day.
Richard Klabbers, Managing Director of Sevenstar who competed in the last two events and secured victory in IRC Two aboard Harry Heijst's S&S 41, Winsome, explains the reason for their sponsorship:
'After beating upwind for 14 days non-stop in the now renowned 2010 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, I am hooked on this event! We are very proud to be the title sponsor once again and feel that the determination and tenacity this endurance race demands from competitors is in line with what Sevenstar stands for as the Global leader in Yacht Transport. Together with what the RORC stands for in terms of values, traditions and reliability, we are certain to be the right partner for the race and the RORC. We also believe that this race is attractive to the serious offshore racer and we will see an impressive fleet at the start line in 2014.'
Sevenstar also announced a significant new incentive for competitors in the race - a prize for the first boat under IRC rating will receive a US$20,000 voucher for yacht transport to their selected destination in the world.
'As organisers, The Royal Ocean Racing Club is delighted to secure this long term partnership with Sevenstar Yacht Transport who have now supported the race for the last three events,' says RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen.
'I won't forget the hair-raising sight as I watched the 2010 race explode into action under grey leaden skies and big breeze. It was a magnificent start, 25 knots from the southwest with gusts of up to 30 knots coming out of the Medina River. All the yachts made an impressive sight as they charged down the Solent! This race is much more challenging than an Atlantic crossing because the crews will face the vagaries of the tides and unpredictable weather; dodging oil rigs and container ships and constant sail changing as the course alters at each major headland.'
RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen and Richard Klabbers, Director of Sevenstar.
The 1,802nm course will take competitors around some of the busiest and most tactically challenging sailing waters in the world. It attracts a diverse range of yachts and crew, most of which are enticed by the challenge it offers as well as the diversity and beauty of the route around Britain and Ireland with spectacular scenery and wildlife. Most sailors agree that this race is one of the toughest tests as it is nearly as long as an Atlantic crossing, but the changes of direction at headlands will mean constant breaks in the watch system for sail changes and sail trim.
The race attracts a diverse fleet including multihull, IMOCA Open 60 and Class40, but the overall winner will a yacht racing under the IRC rating system which is expected to attract top professional teams as well as seasoned RORC members and the less experienced offshore sailors. The last edition included world champions, racing 'rock stars' as well as newcomers to the sport.
Two Volvo Open 70s used the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race in 2010 as a trial before the start of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race. It was the first time the Volvo 70s Telefonica (ESP) and Groupama (FRA) had raced against each other.
Today, Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad confirmed their support for the 2014 edition which starts two months before the Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante:
'The Volvo Ocean Race wholeheartedly support the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race as it's an ideal race for our teams to use as a warm up with the new one design VO65 fleet. The testing conditions round Britain and Ireland are perfect for an extreme shakedown and also offers the chance for teams to race up against each other for the first time before they head for Alicante and the start of the 2014 Volvo Ocean Race.'
Jonny Malbon's IMOCA 60, Artemis Ocean Racing, crossed the Royal Yacht Squadron Line to set a new course record for an IMOCA 60 and overall victory in the 2010 race. Artemis Ocean Racing was also declared as the overall winner under IRC:
'I hope that we will be able to return in 2014 to defend our title once again. It's such a fantastic race, very demanding with lots of corners and opportunities to make both gains and losses. It is a course we have very much enjoyed over the years with Artemis and the team and I hope the fleet will be as diverse and exciting next time as it was in 2010. Thanks to both RORC and Sevenstar for organising and sponsoring such a special race,' commented winning skipper Malbon.
The last boat to finish the race in 2010 was Adrian Lower's Swan 44, Selene from the Royal Burnham Yacht Club who took two weeks to complete the course compared with only six days for the biggest boats. Twice as long in a boat half the size, what a feat; the very essence of Corinthian RORC racing.
Enquiries are open for the race via the Royal Ocean Racing Club website.