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Radical changes to Volvo Ocean Race format

Changes to the Volvo Ocean Race include a commitment to race activity in every calendar year and a proposed non-stop lap around Antarctica.

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The Volvo Ocean Race will boost its commercial offering to sponsors and Host Cities, by introducing radical changes to the racecourse, stopover formats and timing of future race activity.

The changes include a commitment to race activity in every calendar year and a proposed non-stop lap around Antarctica as a leg of the race as part of future routes that could look very different.

But Race CEO Mark Turner stressed that racing around the world, and maximising Southern Ocean miles, would continue to be at the heart of every future edition of the 44-year-old fully crewed race.

New racecourse options to be selected over the coming decade include a non-stop leg around Antarctica as part of a round the world course – and Turner revealed that another leg could even be a full non-stop lap around the planet.

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The dates of the three races after the upcoming 2017-18 edition have not yet been decided, but the sequence could start as early as 2019.

Under instruction from the Volvo Ocean Race Board, the race is investigating the feasibility of a switch to a two-year cycle from the current three-yearly one.

This would align all the major events of the sport – the Volvo Ocean Race, Vendée Globe, America's Cup and Olympic Games – in a non-conflicting calendar for the first time ever.

The race will commit to visiting North America, South America, Australasia, Greater China, and at least five major European markets at the very minimum once every other edition, so that there is commercial certainty well ahead of final routes being contracted, making it easier for 2-cycle sponsor commitments to be made to teams.

In addition to varying the routes of the race, Host Cities will be able to choose from a range of flexible stopover formats – from a 24-48 hour pit-stop, to short-format stopovers of five days, through to longer ‘two weekend’ stopovers.

For the first time, potential Host Cities will be able to bid for not just for race stopovers but also for more permanent bases and activities that bring significant economic value.

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They include bases for Volvo Ocean Race Academies, venues for the sustainability Ocean Summits and future iterations of The Boatyard, currently based in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Volvo Ocean Race began life as the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973 and the next decade will take in the 50th anniversary in 2023.

To mark the anniversary, a special edition race starting in 2023 may shadow part or all of the original route or there could even be a separate ‘golden jubilee’ race featuring race legends and older boats.

The next VOR will start from Alicante, Spain in October 2017 - to date five teams are entered.

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G New
23 May 2017 6:20 GMT


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