Friday, October 22, 2010

Irish Time: Ireland's Volvo Ocean Race entry struggling to secure funding

The article that appeared in today's Irish Times shouldn't come as a surprise, given the dire financial situation Ireland has found itself. It appears that the potential Irish entry in the 2011-12 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race is encountering hurdles in its drive to secure the necessary funds.

According to the article, similarly to the port of Lorient in France, an Irish entry in the race must also be present in order for Galway to repeat as a stopover. This edition of the Volvo Ocean Race is scheduled to finish in the Irish port during the first week of July 2012. The French provided Team Groupama, most probably the best team, headed by one of the world's best offshore sailors, Franck Cammas. On the other hand, it appears that the Irish are still struggling and funding is "the big issue".

The Galway two-week stopover in the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race was an immense success, yielding a "reported economic benefit to the country of €55 million". According to the newspaper, that financial windfall prompted the Irish government to commit €4 million to the finish of the 2011-12 edition of the round-the-world race. Yet, this money comes with a catch. It is "ring-fenced strictly to the hosting of the race" while the sailing team must fight an uphill battle and try to raise all the necessary funds on its own.

According to the article, "the budget needed to prepare and campaign Green Dragon is €10 million, and sources have confirmed that €2.5 million in sponsorship has already been secured.". Not encouraging at all, when a year before the start of the race they only have 25% of their, very low, target budget.

Unfortunately, these must be some of the worst times to knock on the doors of large corporations asking for tens of millions of euros or dollars for a high-level sailing team. I wonder how many of the potential America's Cup challengers will actually make it to the starting line three years from now.

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