The Ocean Race: “A very good start”

Published on January 13th, 2023

On January 15, five Imocas will be on the start line of the 14th edition of The Ocean Race (formerly the Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Race), with the first of seven stages racing between Alicante and Cape Verde. At the same time, six VO65s start The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup, a short format race comprising three stages. In this report, Tip & Shaft caught up with Johan Salén, co-owner of the race around the world.

Along with Richard Brisius you bought The Ocean Race from Volvo (who remain the main partner) in June 2018, how do you feel when you look back on the past four and a half years?

The feeling is that it has been a very, very long time (smiles) to make this transition – we had to change our name, partly change the race structure and the team, – then we met some great uncertainties between COVID and the war in Ukraine. But now that we are here, we can say that this is a very good start, we have a great race village, with a lot of people, about 200 journalists and the hospitality set ups are full.

All of this makes it possible for us to forget the past four years very quickly. We are looking forward. But it’s true that it has not been easy. I know there were rumors a year or two ago that the race would not take place at all, but we never felt that was the case.

And anyway, even when everything is going well, having ups and downs is normal managing an event which, in itself, is very complex with many elements, between the teams, partners, cities, policies, the sustainability aspect. And of course, not everyone you work with has the same expectations and perspectives.

It’s very interesting, but it’s not always easy to get everyone on the same page at the same time. But that was true, too, for our predecessors, if you talk to Knut (Frostad, former boss of the race) or others, they were burned out by the experience and subsequently changed their lives afterwards. But the fact that it’s difficult makes the moments when it works all the more satisfying. We love the period we are living today. – Full report

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The Ocean Race 2022-23 Race Schedule:
Alicante, Spain – Leg 1 start: January 15, 2023
Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22; Leg 2 start: January 25
Cape Town, South Africa – ETA: February 9; Leg 3 start: February 26 or 27 (TBC)
Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1; Leg 4 start: April 23
Newport, RI, USA – ETA: May 10; Leg 5 start: May 21
Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May 30; Leg 6 start: June 8
Kiel, Germany (Fly-By) – June 9
The Hague, The Netherlands – ETA: June 11; Leg 7 start: June 15
Genova, Italy – The Grand Finale – ETA: June 25, 2023; Final In-Port Race: July 1, 2023

The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race and Whitbread Round the World Race) was initially to be raced in two classes of boats: the high-performance, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the one-design VO65 class which has been used for the last two editions of the race.

However, only the IMOCAs will be racing round the world while the VO65s will race in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint which competes in Legs 1, 6, and 7 of The Ocean Race course.

Additionally, The Ocean Race also features the In-Port Series with races at seven of the course’s stopover cities around the world which allow local fans to get up close and personal to the teams as they battle it out around a short inshore course.

Although in-port races do not count towards a team’s overall points score, they do play an important part in the overall rankings as the In-Port Race Series standings are used to break any points ties that occur during the race around the world.

The 14th edition of The Ocean Race was originally planned for 2021-22 but was postponed one year due to the pandemic, with the first leg starting on January 15, 2023.

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