Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Yachting: Race back in 'spiritual home'

Auckland confirmed as Volvo race stopover but Kiwi entry depends on 'money hunt'.

France's Groupama was first into Auckland Harbour in 2012 on leg four of the race. Photo / Volvo Ocean Race
France's Groupama was first into Auckland Harbour in 2012 on leg four of the race. Photo / Volvo Ocean Race

Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton will wait until after this year's America's Cup before beginning the "money hunt" for the next Volvo Ocean Race.

Auckland, often referred to as the "spiritual home" of the round-the-world race, was yesterday confirmed as a stopover port for the next two races - a deal that is not contingent on having a local entry.

The race returned to Auckland in 2012 for the first time in a decade thanks largely to the involvement of Team New Zealand's Camper, who finished second overall behind French team Groupama.

Given the success of the stopover and Auckland's storied history in the race, Volvo Ocean Race chief executive Knut Frostad did not need a Kiwi entry to convince him the event should return to New Zealand in 2015.

"We go to all kinds of new and crazy places, and we need to go somewhere where people just know the sport," he said. "History and legacy is still a very important thing."

Frostad is hopeful there will be a Kiwi boat in the event and said he had been trying to convince Dalton to get involved again.

"I am on the phone trying to twist his arm every day," Frostad said of his good mate and old sailing rival.

"We hope there will be a New Zealand entry ... There's no guarantee that will happen but I'm absolutely confident there will be plenty of New Zealand sailors in the race."

With Emirates Team New Zealand channelling all their energy and resources towards their America's Cup campaign in San Francisco this year, Dalton said he would not be able to properly commit to another Volvo campaign until after September.

Ordinarily, that would not leave the team enough time to put together a credible campaign for the 2014-15 race. However, with the next two events to be contested in standardised one-design boats, it will not only reduce costs but also buy the competitors more time.

"Our focus is America's Cup at the moment and the one-design means there's no massive pressure to get it done now, or announce anything now," said Dalton. "There's a need to secure a few key people and [dependent] on finance being available, yes, we intend to do the race."

But securing the finance for the nine-month race is no small matter. Even with the reduction in costs, finding the necessary sponsorship is exceptionally difficult in the bleak global economy.

"It's incredibly tough to find money, and everything we do, whether it's America's Cup or Volvo, is subject to the money hunt."

Auckland is the third stopover port confirmed for the 2014-15 race, with the other two being Brazilian cities Recife and Itajai.

The race will start in Alicante in October next year, with the first stopover confirmed in Recife, in northeast Brazil, which suggests Cape Town has missed out as a pit-stop. From Recife, the fleet is expected to sail east, around the Cape of Good Hope and up to Abu Dhabi. Other expected stopovers on the way to Auckland are India and Hong Kong, before the gruelling southern ocean leg to Itajai.

- NZ Herald

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