Auckland, New Zealand, is back in the Volvo Ocean Race after a gap of 10 years. The city, which has fielded some of the world’s best sailors in the Volvo Ocean Race, last hosted the event in 2001-02.
It will stage the leg four finish from Sanya in China and the start of leg five, which will take the fleet into the Southern Ocean once again, round the infamous Cape Horn and up to a finish in Itajai, Brazil.
'It is with the greatest pleasure I can confirm Auckland, New Zealand has won its bid to become a stopover port in the next Volvo Ocean Race. The local people have an immense appreciation of sailing, and the Volvo Ocean Race in particular,' said Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad. 'Many of the world’s best-known sailors are from New Zealand, and we are proud to bring the race back to the City of Sails, where we will be sure of a huge reception.'
'This announcement completes the route and our goal of contracting all the ports before the end of March 2010, significantly earlier than in previous race cycles. The preliminary course will be published during April,' Frostad added.
Auckland Mayor John Banks says he is pleased to see Auckland included as a stopover for this major international event. 'This event is a great fit with Auckland’s maritime location and of significant economic benefit for our city,' says Mr Banks.
'Auckland has a proud history associated with this event and we look forward to welcoming the fleet and many spectators to our city once again.'
New Zealand has fielded many of the world’s greatest sailors, including Sir Peter Blake who competed five times in The Whitbread Round the World Race, which became the Volvo Ocean Race in 2001. He finally won it comprehensively in 1989-90 on the great Steinlager 2.
Grant Dalton, CEO of Emirates Team New Zealand, has also been a prolific competitor in the event, competing six times, being part of the winning crew onboard Flyer in 1981-82, and winning the maxi class with New Zealand Endeavour in 1993-94. Whilst fellow New Zealander Ross Field won the Whitbread 60 division with Yamaha the same year.
More recently, Mike Sanderson drove ABN AMRO ONE to a resounding victory in 2005-06, with Brad Jackson and Stu Bannatyne, as his watch captains. They carried on their winning streak as watch captains onboard 2008-09 winner Ericsson 4 and were jointly name Sailor of the Year at the 2009 Yachting New Zealand Excellence Awards. Along with Mark Christensen, Jackson and Bannatyne are the only sailors to have won the race three times.
The route for 2011-12 is now set and includes: start port Alicante/Spain, Cape Town/South Africa, Abu Dhabi/UAE, Sanya/China, Auckland/New Zealand, Itajai/Brazil, Miami/USA, Lisbon/Portugal, Lorient/France and finish port Galway/Ireland.