Saturday, October 08, 2005
"This is the Mount Everest of sailing. It is probably the toughest round-the-world race ever conceived.” That was how Ericsson Racing Team head of marketing Behdad Banian described the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06, organised once every four years, during a recent press conference in Singapore.
Neal McDonald (left) and Bert Nordberg, who is executive vice-president of group function sales and marketing for Ericsson, with a replica of the Ericsson Racing Team boat.The grand prix sailboat race, scheduled to kick off in November, will cover a distance of 31,000 nautical miles and will take about eight months to complete. The participants will sail their boats from Vigo, Spain to Cape Town, Melbourne, Wellington, Rio de Janeiro, Baltimore/ Annapolis and New York before making a transatlantic journey to Portsmouth in England, Rotterdam in the Netherlands and finally, Gothenburg, Sweden. Seven competing teams namely, Abn Amro Boat 1 and Boat 2 (Netherlands), Ericsson Racing Team (Sweden), Team Pirate (United States), Brasil 1 (Brazil), Premier Challenge (Australia) and Movistar (Spain), will sail their boats at maximum speed 24 hours a day. Unlike previous races where 60-ft boats were used, this event will see faster and bigger 70-footers. “The new boats are a lot faster. In April, Movistar broke the world speed record by covering 530 nautical miles in 24 hours with their new 70-footer,” said Banian. Banian also pointed out that unlike past races, this year’s event will have only 60% of the points coming from the long ocean legs between the ports. “The rest of the points will come from in-port races and six scoring gates during the ocean legs. Bert Nordberg, executive vice-president of group function sales and marketing for Ericsson, said the race was a good marketing and sales platform for the company. “The race has many similarities to our business. “To win, strong teamwork is needed. Everything has to work from beginning to the end – just like our products and services. Aspects of the race such as professionalism, respect and perseverance also reflect the core values of Ericsson,” said Nordberg. Banian also said Ericsson aimed to increase public interest in the sport of sailboat racing. “We want to help people understand what the sport is all about. Plans to promote the sport include interactive games on mobile phones where participants can win prizes such as a trip to one of the ports in the race,” said Banian.