Published: Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Volvo Ocean Race has signed a four-year partnership with World Sailing, the sport’s governing body, as part of a plan to develop the next generation of offshore sailors, and create stronger links to the wider sport.

World Sailing Partners With Volvo To Develop Pro Offshore Sailors 1

(Photos: Ainhoa Sanchez and David Lichtneker / Volvo Ocean Race - World Sailing President Kim Anderson)

Under the terms of the agreement, Volvo Ocean Race and the event’s co-owners and sponsors Volvo Car Group and Volvo Group will become the official partners of World Sailing.

The race’s long-term plan will include opening future Ocean Academies to help young high-performance sailors gain the necessary offshore experience to compete for places on participating teams.

That would include racing in the same boats used in any future Olympic class of offshore sailing – something currently under discussion between World Sailing and the International Olympic Committee.

Kim Anderson, President of World Sailing: “World Sailing is delighted to partner with Volvo as they have been fully committed to developing sailing worldwide for many years.

“They are an ambitious, forward thinking partner who match World Sailing’s vision and mission for the entire sport. They will be a crucial partner for World Sailing, working with us across all of our titled events, sustainability programmes and will have exclusivity in the automotive sector.

“It is vital that World Sailing continues to aid growth across all aspects of the sport and our partnership with the Volvo Ocean Race allows us to be closely aligned with one of sports major events.”

World Sailing Partners With Volvo To Develop Pro Offshore Sailors

Under a separate agreement announced on Wednesday, the Race has also revealed that marine and protective coatings brand, International, will back the official Volvo Ocean Race Youth Academy in 2017-18.

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner said the World Sailing agreement would help create stepping-stones to the iconic round-the-world race – the toughest test of a team in professional sport.

Turner said: “The Volvo Ocean Race is at the apex of the offshore and ocean racing pyramid, but unlike something like the eco-system in French sailing, we don’t yet have an established pathway to make getting there a natural progression.

“The partnership with World Sailing is important for us to show a long-term commitment to the sport and, equally, World Sailing’s support and understanding of what the Volvo Ocean Race does – to continue to inspire the world’s best athletes to go offshore.

“But we need to create some steps underneath it like the Volvo Ocean Race Academies and a closer link to the potential Olympic offshore class.

“If and when that is confirmed by the International Olympic Committee, the Volvo Ocean Race would be uniquely positioned to provide a path towards the Olympics, with qualifiers potentially taking place at our Host Cities during stopovers – and potentially even the Olympic offshore class being used as a point scorer inside the Volvo Ocean Race. That could expand still further the challenges the sailors must face to win this race." 

World Sailing Partners With Volvo To Develop Pro Offshore Sailors 2

World Sailing has proposed an offshore showcase event to the International Olympic Committee for inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. If ocean racing is included on the programme, the first Olympic-related event could come as soon as 2018.

The Volvo Ocean Race Youth Academy, powered by International, is committed to helping young people all over the world learn more about sailing, and drive excitement and interest around the race by encouraging more youngsters to experience sailing and teamwork.

For young sailors with more experience, a series of races in Optimist dinghies will take place at 10 of the 12 scheduled stopovers in 2017-18. Various workshops, training sessions and other activities will also be provided, including teaching people how to tackle the problem of plastic in our oceans.

Alberto Slikta, Managing Director of AkzoNobel Specialty Coatings, said: “Connecting with young people and possibly helping to nurture the next generation of Volvo Ocean Race sailors is an exciting opportunity and we are delighted that the Youth Academy will be powered by International.”

Volvo has a long-running commitment to sailing and previously worked with the world governing body of the sport, acting as title sponsor of the Youth Sailing World Championships from 1999 to 2010.