Before it became The Ocean Race, it was the Volvo Ocean Race that made circumnavigation of the world a hull show, stopping along the way to flex its commercial muscles. Instead of whizzing across the lower latitudes, the course passed through India, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and China. Asia has been big business for Volvo and the team sponsors.
The Clipper Round the World Race, in which the crew pays to participate, laid the template for using the course profitably. While these routes weren’t ideal for sailing, they did pay the bills. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the pandemic, they were on their way to Asia for the 2019-20 Clipper Race and had to stop the race in March 2020.
While the Clipper Race is hoping to start from the Philippines in February 2022, The Ocean Race is taking no chances and has revamped its course to avoid the region altogether. For the first time, the route along the Southern Oceans will not have any stopovers, making it the longest stage in racing history.
But prior to the new 12,750 nautical mile leg from Cape Town, South Africa to ItajaÃ, Brazil, stops were planned in Shenzhen, China and Auckland, New Zealand, and the New Zealand Herald now reports that the Kiwis aren’t too happy with this revision:
The Auckland layover organizers, Mayo & Calder, called the move a “slap in the face” of fans, were informed of the decision less than 24 hours before the announcement and are confused as the Auckland layover was 17 months away .
“Preparations for the Auckland layover are well advanced and we have been working with our investment partners in the New Zealand government and the Auckland Council to ensure that all appropriate arrangements are in place to enable a successful layover in 2023”, said Mayo & Calder in a statement.
âThis has been repeatedly communicated to race organizers without any inquiries or assurances regarding New Zealand’s COVID-19 response.
âThe stopover in Auckland is at the heart of The Ocean Race and its spiritual home. For almost 50 years, Kiwis have welcomed the race and teams like no other and it would be a slap in the face of fans around the world if the race organizers do not adequately resolve this situation.
“In cooperation with our legal advisors and with the support of our investment partners, we are now concentrating on finding a satisfactory solution for this disappointing situation together with the race organizer.”
The course change will also postpone the launch from Alicante, Spain, originally planned for October 2022, to now in late December 2022 or early January 2023, with the final date to be announced.
Race details – course – teams – Facebook
The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race) is held in two boat classes: the high performance, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the one-design VO65 class which was used for the last two editions of the race. Entries in the IMOCA 60 class compete for the Ocean Race trophy, while those who ride the VO65s chase for the Ocean Challenge trophy. The 14th edition was originally planned for 2021-22, but has been postponed for a year due to the pandemic.