Volvo Ocean Race starts countdown; America's Cup starts shutdown
What a difference a mere 100 miles make in the world sailing scene. Monday was a day of contrasts in the Valencian region. While in the city of Alicante local politicians switched on the countdown clock to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race (300 days), in the region's capital Valencia, the first victims of the turmoil in the America's Cup were announced in the green base of Desafío Español.
Volvo Ocean Race
In a public ceremony, the president of the Valencia region and the mayor of Alicante switched on the countdown clock to the start of the Volvo Ocean race (300 days). Although the act was purely symbolic and probably politically motivated (elections are a few months away), the fact is that like Valencia in 2004, Alicante is stepping on the accelerator for the round-the-world race.
The two events are obviously not comparable and the onshore needs for the VOR are undoubtedly much less extended. Still, again like Valencia, a derelict part of the port (around 40,000 m2) will be transformed in order to be used by the organization, the teams, the press, spectators, guests, VIPs, etc..
The countdown clock is ticking. It's not broken but the flickering LEDs are tricky for the camera lense. Less than 300 days are left till the start of the VOR. Alicante, 17 December 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing
A mere 100 miles to the north, in Valencia, the mood was far from festive, especially in the Desafío Español base where activity is screeching to a halt. All the Spanish team's personnel was summoned in order for Agustín Zulueta to announce a round of layoffs. There hasn't been any official announcement yet but the first information from a number of extremely reliable sources is very discouraging.
With the exception of sailors, most of the team's employees are fired. Only a handful of people will be kept, one or two for each department (finance, marketing, press & communication, shore crew, administration). Sailing activities will not be stopped but will be radically reduced. According to our information, there will not be any sailing on America's Cup yachts but instead the Spanish team will set up two teams for the 2008 summer season, one to race in the GP42 circuit and another in the TP52.
During the 2007 season there was an "unofficial" Desafío Español GP42 team, the Quebramar-Chrysler. Although it was not named after the America's Cup team, it was entirely crewed by its sailors. At this moment we don't know whether there will be two branded yachts (one GP42 and one TP52) or whether the crew will staff existing teams.
Until we receive the official press release, there are two unknowns. First, the fate of Paul Cayard and second the AC90 design project. At this stage and with the scarce information available, in our opinion, it doesn't make sense to keep Cayard on the team's payroll.
The president of the Valencia region clicks on the mouse and the countdown clock starts. Will Justice Cahn click on a mouse to start the America's Cup? Alicante, 17 December 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing