The Ocean Race has delayed the start of its next edition by a year so that it will now take place in 2022, as well as setting out its the schedule for its next three editions.
The 2021-22 edition of the global multi-stage sailing race had been due to start in Alicante, Spain, in October 2021 and finish in Genoa, Italy, in the summer of 2022.
The opening and closing host cities will remain the same, but the dates will be pushed back by a year, meaning the race will now take place across 2022-23, with 2023 the 50th anniversary year of the race.
The organisers said the decision was not only a short-term reaction to the implications of the Covid-19 outbreak, but one that considered the long-term development of the race and the interests of all stakeholders.
Richard Brisius, chairman and chief executive of The Ocean Race said: “If anything is our first priority it’s with all those who have been affected by the pandemic. As an international sports competition that stops in six different continents we really have a daily connection to what the reality is of sailors, teams cities and partners.
“We have worked with them over the last six months to develop a new plan, a stable plan, to develop a new future for The Ocean Race and this has led to what we call the Ten-Year plan.”
It is the first time the organisation has set out its scheduling so far in advance. The editions following the 2022-23 event will take place in 2026-27 and in 2030-31.
The decision is understood to have received the backing of The Ocean Race’s corporate partners, who were pleased with the long-term outlook the organisers were outlining.
This includes Volvo Cars, a current premium sponsor and former title sponsor of the race.
Björn Annwall, leader EMEA for Volvo Cars, said: “It is a responsible and insightful decision to adjust to the new realities now, as it allows for the athletes and other parties to prepare properly.
“For us The Ocean Race is more relevant than ever because the ocean is really symbolising communication and travel and trade, and all of those are powerful ways of creating cultural understanding.”
The Ocean Race is considering adding a new European-based event to the calendar in the summer of 2021.
This would be a refined version of the traditional race and the organisation indicated to SportBusiness that part of the function would be to build interest ahead of the 2022-23 race.
Brisius said: “We have been planning for The Ocean Race Europe to be held in between editions of The Ocean Race since we took responsibility for the race last year.
“Originally we had been considering starting this in 2023, but we will now work with teams, cities, and partners to decide whether we should do it in the summer of 2021.”