Yachting: Auckland to host next two Volvo Ocean Races

Teams leave Auckland at the start of the last year's Volvo Ocean Race. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Teams leave Auckland at the start of the last year's Volvo Ocean Race. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Auckland will remain as a stopover on the Volvo Ocean Race for at least the next two instalments in 2015 and 2018 and it will not be contingent on a New Zealand boat entering the round-the-world yacht race.

Auckland was one of 33 cities bidding to make the cut to be one of the 10 stopovers. The City of Sails was the fourth stopover in last year's race and the first time it had hosted the event since the 2001/2002 race.

Team New Zealand's Camper contested last year's race, finishing second overall behind Groupama, but no New Zealand team has yet committed to the next race.

The next two editions will be contested in a new high-performance yacht, the Volvo Ocean 65, designed by Farr Yacht Design in the US and built by a consortium of boatyards in the UK, France, Italy and Switzerland.

Once again, the 2014-15 route will see Auckland play host to the start of the main Southern Ocean leg, sending the teams on their way around Cape Horn and on to the leg finish in Itajaí in Brazil.

The dates of the stopover will be revealed next month.

Auckland is the fourth host port for 2014-15 announced so far, following the start point of Alicante and the two Brazilian ports of Recife and Itajaí. The rest of the route for 2014-15 will be revealed over the coming weeks.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development will invest $5.5 million into hosting the two races, which is expected to inject $7.49 million into the Auckland region's GDP. The Government will also invest $1.5 million on each of two Auckland stopovers.

"Sailing into Auckland after a 10-year gap felt like the race was coming home," said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad. "Tens of thousands of passionate fans packed the Race Village each day, and the crowds for all the arrivals plus the In-Port Race and Leg Start were among the best we've ever had.

"Auckland people know sailing and know the race. As soon as we arrived it was clear that we'd been away from this stunning city too long and it's hugely satisfying to be able to say that we're coming back straight away this time. Having an agreement in place for the next two editions is just the icing on the cake."

This will be the ninth time the race has stopped at Auckland.

"This is an exciting win for Auckland,'' Auckland Mayor Len Brown said. "New Zealand's fabled sailing heritage, and the affinity Aucklanders have with the sea which surrounds us, makes this city the perfect Volvo Ocean Race destination.

"My goal is for Auckland to become the world's most liveable city. A key component of us meeting that goal, and delivering on our ambitious economic transformation objectives, is to play host to major events such as the next two Volvo Ocean Races."

An economic impact study found last year's stopover injected $5.96 million into the Auckland economy. That figure meant a 194 per cent regional return on investment, after the Auckland Council and Government's major events development fund both contributed $1.5 million in funding for the stopover.

Projections suggest the 2015 and 2018 stopovers will provide a GDP impact to New Zealand of approximately $7.4 million respectively and attract 1880 international visitors each year.


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