Crowds gather in the rain to see Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France, celebrate on stage after taking first place on leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.
The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 was not only the closest race in the 39-year history of the event but also the most successful, CEO Knut Frostad said on Thursday, with hundreds of thousands of fans visiting Galway in Ireland for a buoyant finale and outstanding growth across media platforms set to be confirmed once final data is in.
The 11th edition of the race around the world, a thrilling battle eventually won by the debut-making French team Groupama, took place against a challenging set of circumstances yet record revenues from the previous edition meant organisers were able to continue investing. Frostad said feedback from teams, stakeholders and the public had been excellent, while the future of the race was secure thanks to the unqualified support of its two owners, Volvo Car Corporation and Volvo Group.
'The Volvo Ocean Race has never been in better shape,' said Frostad, who competed in the Race four times before taking over as CEO before the 2008-09 edition.
'Despite the tough economic climate globally, the threat of piracy in the Indian Ocean and more damage to the boats than we would have liked, we delivered the most successful Race in our history. Millions of fans visited our Race Villages and we also had huge increases in news coverage of the race, with everything pointing to double the number of online articles about the Race and double the number of page views to our site once the final figures are in. The racing was also incredibly close, with four teams still challenging for victory a matter of days before the finish.'
The latest confirmed figures available show that as of Leg 7, the official website had clocked up 109 million page views (91 percent more than the total for 2008-09) while more than 51,000 articles had been published on major websites (70 percent more than total online coverage for 2008-09). The Race is the most popular sailing property on Facebook by a huge margin, with over 200,000 fans, while the Race tracker, which allows people to follow the boats 24 hours a day, had racked up 16 million visits and 234 million page views.* Final numbers will be released in an end-of-race report later this year.
Organisers of the Galway Stopover, Let's Do It Global, said in a press release this week that 900,000 people had visited the event's Race Village and Global Village over a nine-day period.
Frostad unveiled in Lorient last month plans for a new one-design boat that will be considerably less expensive than the Volvo Open 70s used in the last three editions and should enable teams to put together competitive campaigns for 12-15 million euros. The start port will again be Alicante, where the Race HQ and newly opened Museum are housed.
'Being able to announce plans for the next two editions puts us in a stronger position than ever,' said Frostad. 'We have dozens of cities interested in hosting the Race and the backing we have from Volvo means I'm very confident we will have at least eight boats on the start line for the next two races.
'Last month we opened a wonderful new Museum at our base in Alicante and I'm looking forward to seeing that prosper. The future is very bright.'
August 2012: New boat mould construction starts
December 2012: Notice of Race published
December 2012: New route for 2014-15 edition to be announced
June 2013: First boat launched. A new boat will be completed every seven weeks thereafter
Late 2014: 12th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race to start from Alicante, Spain
* Monitoring period for online articles from 10.10.11 to 10.06.12. Website figures from Google Analytics. Facebook stats from Simply Measured.