Down town La Rochelle, Picture by Paul Lakatos/Idea Marketing.
Clipper Ventures PLC, organisers of the Velux 5 Oceans yacht race, have confirmed that the city of La Rochelle in France will host the start and finish of the original solo ocean race around the world. The news comes two years ahead of the official start date, now confirmed as October 17, 2010, which will see The Ultimate Solo Challenge set off from La Rochelle before returning to the historic maritime city in May 2011.
The Race Management have secured a partnership with La Rochelle and the agglomeration community following a competitive selection process over the last 12 months since Velux re-signed as title sponsor. The city has an ideal geographical position for solo skippers to begin their journey around the world, taking on the infamous Bay of Biscay before stopping at different cities throughout Africa, Australasia, South America and North America and then returning to France.
Race Director David Adams commented, 'La Rochelle was always our number one target to host the start and finish of the Velux 5 Oceans. We wanted to come here as the city and the team on the ground met all of our criteria. It is an historical port city with strong ties to the sea, professional ocean racing and has an ideal geographical position. The skippers of the race will benefit from world class dock facilities in the heart of the city and local expertise in all services for preparing racing yachts for this classic event.'
Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston concluded, 'Legendary skippers from France have shaped the amazing history of the Velux 5 Oceans race and yet the event has never started or even visited these shores. We want to establish a close link to France and La Rochelle boasts a number of leading Open 60 sailors. Not only is the city such a beautiful backdrop, but we are also confident that the people of the city and its surrounding community will embrace this event and celebrate the amazing achievements of the competitors of the Ultimate Solo Challenge.'
The Velux 5 Oceans start and finish will be supported by the Community of La Rochelle and managed by the team from the Grand Pavois Organisation (GPO), the organisers of one of the most successful annual boats shows in the world. The team has unrivalled experience in hosting major maritime events, from a Volvo Ocean Race stopover to welcoming Le Figaro and now managing the Transat 6.50, Charente Maritime/Bahia.
Maxime Bono, the Deputy Mayor of La Rochelle and President of the agglomeration community of La Rochelle, concluded, 'Innovation, performance and reliability are the values that the Velux 5 Oceans and La Rochelle share. To state these common values stronger, higher, we wanted to become the port of start and finish of this internationally renowned event. Together we will write a new page in the history of the off race.'
Michael K. Rasmussen, Chief Marketing Officer for Velux , added, 'I am very pleased that this adventurous ocean racing event starts and ends in the port of La Rochelle, France. La Rochelle has hosted big sailing events in the past and Velux 5 Oceans adds to this heritage. I am sure that many Velux customers, employees and fans of The Ultimate Solo Challenge are thrilled with this news'
The Velux 5 Oceans expects to make further announcements over the coming months on the race route around the world, the fleet structure, registered competitors, the skipper support packages and the communications platform.