European sailing website, Vsail.info reported late last night (NZT) that Emirates Team NZ was close to securing the funding and entry in the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race.
Vsail.info reported that 'according to one of Spain’s top sailing journalists, Nicolas Terry, Emirates Team New Zealand is back in the Volvo Ocean Race, joining forces with Pedro Campos.
'Just like the previous edition of the round-the-world race, Emirates Team New Zealand will take part in a Kiwi-Spanish joint-venture'
The full report can be read by clicking here
In New Zealand the fact that there was a partnership between the NZers and a Spanish group, was confirmed by Emirates Team NZ MD, Grant Dalton. However he added that the story was very speculative.
The news item and a brief comment by Dalton can be heard here (starts at 3.30 into clip): click here
Social media in Spain claim that the deal is more advanced than indicated by Dalton.
If the parties are able to conclude funding and sponsorship arrangements, then it is believed that many of the crew from the second placed Camper entry in the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean race would be involved - reducing the time required for crew training and bringing the Volvo Ocean 60 up to speed.
An entry from one of the top three teams in the previous race would also add a lot of credibility to the race - providing a vital benchmark for the performance of the new teams.
In the last Volvo Ocean Race, Camper suffered indifferent form in the first five legs of the race, but improved dramatically with consistent places in the final stages to second place. The early poor form was attributed to the design of the boat, with maybe the predicted weather expectations not eventuating. But even so the boat was reckoned by other competitors to be one of the top performers upwind.
The one-design nature of the Volvo Ocean 60 would eliminate design differences - putting the emphasis on crew work, and navigation. These two factors would probably work to Team NZ's advantage, given the fact that the team goes into the race with considerable experience from the precious edition and established crew combinations.
Previously it was believed that Camper, Team NZ's naming rights sponsor from the previous Volvo Ocean Race was not willing to go again with another VOR entry. Dalton had given himself until March 2014 to confirm funding for an entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, which is due to start in October from Alicante, Spain.
The team's major focus remains on the 2017 America's Cup for which the new rule and Protocol are expected to be announced in mid-March, with the venue to be announced later in 2014.