Volvo Ocean Race relocates to Spain

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The Independent Online

Britain is to lose the premier ocean race it founded and has run since 1973.

What was the Whitbread Round the World Race, and has become the Volvo Ocean Race is leaving its base between Southampton and Portsmouth and will be moving later this year to Alicante on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

There was mass support when the race started from Alicante in October last year. The city and the region has offered a package which includes entries for the next race starting in 2011, base and training facilities for current and future teams, offices and favourable tax conditions.

In addition, said ceo Knut Frostad making the announcement in Boston, Volvo will build a round the world race museum and interactive centre while preparing for the next event.

The fleet of seven is at present in the United States, where there is an inshore race on Saturday, before crossing the Atlantic to Galway. The final three legs are to Marstrand, Stockholm, and St. Petersburg.

Both Volvo AB and Ford, which owns Volvo Cars, have announced funding for the next race. Originally it started from Portsmouth and then moved to Southampton. This time there is no British entry and no British stopover. The last two races have started from Spain.

In 1973 the Whitbread brewing company backed the Royal Naval Sailing Association’s idea for a round the world race and took some cash from what was called the “samples budget”, an allocation to company representatives to buy drinks for potential licencee customers, to fund it. Now the budget is believed to be in excess of €25m.