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Southern Spars

Gearing up in Portugal for PGOR start

by Brian Hancock on 26 Sep 2008
Portimao Global Ocean Race http://www.portimaoglobaloceanrace.com
Portimão Global Ocean Race. It’s often a question of being careful what you wish for. Two short years ago the idea of a new around-the-world yacht race was just that - an idea.

Josh Hall and myself were convinced that the sailing calendar needed an affordable, achievable global sailing race to fill in where other established events, the Volvo, Velux and Vendée, had moved on from. With rising budgets and the boats becoming technically complicated to sail, the new generation of short-handed sailors were finding it hard to find a home. The demand was there and we took the idea and ran with it.

The city of Portimão, Portugal may seem like an unlikely sponsor for the race but Portimão is an event city. They host the Audi Med Cup, the F1 Powerboating Grand Prix, and this weekend, the P1 Powerboat World Championships, among many other events. Their goal is to establish themselves as ‘the’ European city for world class events and a global yacht race certainly fits in among the sporting and cultural happenings that are steadily putting Portimão on the world map.

For us as event organizers we are all about our competitors, getting them to the start line and getting them around the world to the finish line: safely. We had opportunities to start the race in both the US and UK but chose Portugal for it’s temperate October climate and the fact that two hours into the race the fleet will be in the trade winds with a warm wind at their backs and the horizon ahead curved like outstretched arms just waiting for them.

We have an eclectic fleet for the inaugural event, small to be sure, but of the highest quality and the numbers on a par with the Velux and Volvo. We aspire to a fleet the size of the Vendée Globe but it has taken almost three decades for them to get to that level. There is deep interest in our race but with the economy in free fall and the fact that we are a brand new event, there is a certain and understandable reticence among some sailors, the French in particular, to throw their hand in with us. They will be there for race two, I am sure of it.

A new chapter begins this weekend. This is the last update going out from our current website. Our brand new website comes online early next week with all the tracking, news and video links any armchair race junkie could want. More competitors will start to arrive here in Portimão and prepare for their adventure of a lifetime. We have no seasoned veterans in this race. Just an inspirational group who have put their lives on hold to take up the challenge of the Portimão Global Ocean Race.

We hope you will follow along as we take a quick spin of the planet. This is no longer about Josh and myself. It’s all about the competitors, the trials and tribulations they are sure to encounter, and the metamorphosis they will undergo in their journey from aspiring amateurs to accomplished circumnavigators. It is fitting that Portugal, the country that sent so many intrepid explorers out into the blue yonder in search of new lands, plays host to this event.
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