ORGANISERS of the world’s third biggest sailing circus are seriously considering Newcastle as one of its prestigious international stopover ports, which would make the Supercar 500 look like a quiet Tuesday at Go Karts Go.
In the sport’s pecking order there’s the America’s Cup, Olympics and Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) and it’s the latter that’s seriously considering hosting a finish line and race village on the harbour for the next edition in 2021.
Everything they need is here in terms of foreshore space for a maintenance boatyard, yacht club, corporate entertainment and high-quality accommodation.
As the ‘only show in town’ upon arrival, it wouldn’t be lost among Sydney’s packed event calendar.
They bring their own vast global audience rather than relying on Australia’s metro-centric media to travel up the M1, and our surrounding beaches, bays and vineyards would look truly magnificent.
While early days, there’s a concerted push for brilliant Belmont sailor Chris Nicholson to lead an Australian syndicate and he’d have no shortage of crewing mates from Lake Macquarie.
Nicholson, incidentally, was watch captain aboard Team AkzoNobel during its record-breaking 24-hour run in the current race – smashing the 600-mile barrier on May 25 with a blistering average boat speed of more than 25 knots. A hot new 60-footer being entertained for the next race, with canting mast and foils, would be even quicker than the current breed while requiring fewer crew.
The existing Volvo Ocean 65 may also continue as a separate one-design division.
It all adds up to a tantalising proposition, with significant economic impact, that certainly has the ear of Newcastle City Council.
Race organisers have also confirmed new ownership for the event, which has been managed for the past 20 years by Volvo … and Whitbread before that.
Spain’s Atlant Ocean Racing, led by Richard Brisius, Johan Salén and Jan Litborn, will now run the round-the-world race, bringing the experience of seven previous campaigns over the past 28 years.
Brisius and Salén began as sailors in the 1989-90 race before finding success as team managers, including winning efforts with EF Language (1997-98) and Ericsson 4 (2008-09).
They’re president and co-president of the current race.
“The history of this round-the-world race is inspiring and the future is very promising,” Brisius said.
“This race is about people and I am humbled by the prospects to serve some of the finest athletes and sport professionals in this world as well as leading partners to the race and host cities.
“We are in this for the long run and are determined that the race will go from strength to strength as a sustainable premier world event.
“I look forward to being part of evolving this unique race by co-operating together with the teams, cities, Volvo and all our key stakeholders.”
Volvo Cars will remain as a sponsor.
Salén added that the current platform allowed them to continue to innovate in the next race.
“Opening the race to another class would allow us to tap into an existing inventory of round-the-world race boats that are at the cutting edge of technology,” he said. “We see this as a way to challenge the best sailors in the world with a class that encourages development and sits at the forefront of the sport.”
The 2017-18 race is building towards one of the closest finishes in the event’s history. The fleet is expected to reach The Hague on June 30.
Frantic, delayed start
WITH high seas, strong winds and 83 containers littering the nearby waters, the 2018 Ponant Sydney Noumea Yacht Race got off to a delayed start last weekend.
Newcastle yachts Dare Devil and Frantic were among the 24-boat fleet on Sunday, while the Swan 43 Santana was representing Lake Macquarie. Another familiar starter was Archambault 40 One For The Road, now in Victorian hands.
The CYCA organised the first Sydney Noumea Race in 1953 at the invitation of the New Caledonian government. The Farr 65 Brindabella set the fastest time of five days, 21 hours for the 1064 nautical mile course in 1991.
Keep streaming at sea
PERSONALLY I’ve never sat at anchor, with a beer in hand and snags on the barbie, and thought, “geeze I wish I had Netflix out here”. But then I’m not a sullen teenager.
For those who do want it, Raymarine is offering a free LightHouse OS upgrade to let you stream Netflix movies and Spotify on its Axiom and Axiom Pro multifunction navigation screens.
Of course, a wi-fi internet connection, bluetooth audio device and valid Netflix and Spotify subscriptions are required. You can also access the GRIBview precision global weather service app and marine services, which is pretty handy.