Volvo Ocean Race confirms switch to two-year cycle

The Volvo Ocean Race has today (Wednesday) confirmed that it will move from a three-year to two-year cycle after the 2017-18 edition of the global sailing event.

The upcoming competition is due to begin in Alicante, Spain, on October 22 and will conclude in The Hague in the Netherlands at the end of June next year.

The next edition of the event will then take place in 2019-20 before future editions are scheduled for 2021-22 and 2023-24. Organisers of the tournament said that the tender process is now open for cities interested in hosting any of the three events.

Mark Turner, chief executive of the Volvo Ocean Race, said: “The shorter cycle means we could shorten each edition by a few months from the current eight- or nine-month format, but nonetheless go to more markets in total over each period of four years and two races. At the same time we will strengthen the core DNA and heritage of the race – always being around the world, and always having the southern oceans around Antarctica at its heart.”

From 2019-20, the Volvo Ocean Race will also feature a new mix of stopover formats and additional inventory, as organisers seek to offer more commercial value for competing teams, sponsors and host cities. Turner said that this could encourage teams to commit to more than one event at a time.

“One expected result of these changes will be teams and their sponsors committing for two races at a time, over three to four years, something that has rarely happened in the past with a previous timespan of two races in six years being too long a commitment for most companies,” Turner said.

“That means more continuity for everyone, more sponsor activation and general ‘noise’ between races since the teams will not close down, and more effective long-term sailing team set-ups in both sporting and commercial terms.

“Losing the long gap of over two years between the races helps solve many problems – including the sales process for teams, who today, since the switch to provide One Design boats, end up trying to sell sponsorship when there is no race on.”

Tuner added: “There will still be plenty of breathing space for this iconic event, though – between one finish and the start of the following race, there is still going to be 16 or so months, so we are not over-exposing it either.”