Volvo Ocean Race: Closing in on bigger, better fleet for 2014/15
Published on November 26th, 2013
Knut Frostad is two handshakes away from welcoming two additional boats to the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. “They’re in what I call the ‘contract closing’ stage,” said Race CEO Frostad at a press conference before a three-day workshop with the stopover ports in Newport, Rhode Island, U.S. “We are very confident about them.”
Frostad’s keynote address contained the most candid revelations of fleet building developments shared with the public since the 12th edition preparations began 16 months ago.
He kept the prospective boats unnamed but went on to outline two further stages that hinted at an additional five potential campaigns: two boats in ‘negotiations’ and three boats engaged in ‘serious discussions’.
Three teams are already announced for the 2014-15 race – the all-women’s crew of Team SCA, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and China’s Team Dongfeng that was launched at the end of last month.
“It means that we have a good probability of being at least seven,” said Frostad. “We are confident enough about being seven that we are building the seventh boat and it’s more than half finished.”
Compare that to the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, he said. “Only five new boats were built for the last race. So already we are building two more boats than the last race in the most difficult economic climate that the race has ever been in.”
Frostad’s sole focus now is securing these potential teams, spanning the globe at an average of 15,000 air miles per week, crossing countless time zones and eating the majority of his meals at 10,000 metres above sea level.
“Since we started the on the 2014-15 race, 174 teams have come to us and said they want to do the race. I would probably say that around 120 of them are what we call dreamers because they’d love to do the race but they don’t really understand what it takes to get to the start line.”
Frostad and his team have been supporting around 20 serious programmes on a full-time basis.
“We have some teams who work 100 percent on this who have some sponsor leads and have experience, or they have either raced it before, raised money before or they have a sponsor. Those teams we focus all our time on. “
Frostad explained that in today’s economic climate, sponsors are more scrutinising than ever. For the first time, the Volvo Ocean Race is involved in every sponsor pitch, every negotiation and every single contract for all potential teams.
“They’re really trying to understand, ‘are we getting the return for the value?’ – and much more carefully than they ever did before. And what they realise is that it is not only the team that brings the value for them. In fact, the race is bringing a lot of the value.”
Frostad, a former Olympian and a four-time Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race sailor, is no stranger to the challenges of mounting a Volvo Ocean Race campaign himself; a race many consider one of the most grueling athletic challenges in organised sport.
“Getting to the start line is probably one of the hardest things in this event, if not the hardest.”
Source: Race website, Nov. 23, 2013