[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] The final piece of the puzzle was revealed today when Auckland was announced as a stopover port for the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race. It will be the seventh time the City of Sails has featured in the event.
Auckland last hosted the event in 2001-02. This time it will stage the leg four finish from Sanya in China and the start of leg five, which will take the fleet into the Southern Ocean once again, round Cape Horn and onto Itajaí, Brazil.
With the confirmation of Auckland, the route for 2011-12 is now set and includes: start port of Alicante (Spain), Cape Town (South Africa), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sanya (China), Auckland (New Zealand), Itajaí (Brazil), Miami (US), Lisbon (Portugal), Lorient (France) and the finish port of Galway (Ireland).
“Our host port programme around the world is now complete and I can confirm that Auckland has won its bid to become our stopover port in New Zealand,” said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad.
“This announcement completes the route and our goal of contracting all the ports before the end of March 2010, significantly earlier than in previous race cycles. The preliminary course will be published during April.
“The people of Auckland have an immense appreciation of sailing, and the Volvo Ocean Race in particular. Many of the world’s best-known sailors are from New Zealand, and we are proud to bring the race back to the City of Sails, where we will be sure of a huge reception.”
Auckland’s selection as the port of choice and return to the race route was welcomed by Mayor John Banks. “This event is a great fit with Auckland’s maritime location and of significant economic benefit for our city,” he said.
“Auckland has a proud history associated with this event and we look forward to welcoming the fleet and many spectators to our city once again.”
New Zealand has fielded many of the world’s greatest sailors, including Sir Peter Blake who competed five times in The Whitbread Round the World Race, which became the Volvo Ocean Race in 2001. Blake’s victory in 1989-90 on Steinlager 2 included a clean sweep of all six legs.
Grant Dalton, CEO of Emirates Team New Zealand, has also been a prolific competitor in the event, competing six times, being part of the winning crew onboard Flyer in 1981-82, and winning the maxi class with New Zealand Endeavour in 1993-94 whilst fellow New Zealander Ross Field won the Whitbread 60 division with Yamaha the same year.
More recently, Mike Sanderson drove ABN AMRO ONE to a resounding victory in 2005-06, with Brad Jackson and Stu Bannatyne as his watch captains. They carried on their winning streak as watch captains onboard 2008-09 winner Ericsson 4 and were jointly named Sailor of the Year at the 2009 Yachting New Zealand Excellence Awards. Along with Mark Christensen, Jackson and Bannatyne are the only sailors to have won the race three times.
After a 10-year hiatus Auckland will host a Volvo Ocean Race stopover in March 2012. From left, Councillor Greg Moyle, Auckland City Mayor John Banks and Minister of Parliament Maurice Williamson, with a Volvo XC60. Auckland, 31 March 2010. Photo copyright Auckland City Council