Times are very difficult in the sport of sailing, even for the world’s premiere offshore race, even in the country where offshore racing is hugely popular, drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators, and offshore sailors are household names. While Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, was inaugurating the spectacular race village in Abu Dhabi, an article in Ouest-France, the biggest French newspaper, painted a much bleaker picture for the stopover in Lorient.
Lorient Grand Large, the stopover organizers, have been unable to find private sponsorship to cover a budget that the newspaper estimates at 3 million euros. As a result, the city council decided to loan Lorient Grand Large 1.5 million euros in order to pay “the first bills” of all the activities during the two weeks the stopover will last. Always according to the same article, it is indeed a loan the organizers will have to repay and not grant but its terms are not revealed.
So far, according to Ouest France, the only major partner is the Region of Brittany, to the tune of 360,000 euros. A number of smaller companies, such as Azimut (communication and computer services), Interpole (temp agency) and Lori Si (printing), are suppliers to the event but with value-in-kind deals. Finally, a number of business owners have bought hospitality tickets at different price levels, depending on the services provided but according to the newspaper, they still haven’t been quantified.
Even in the home city of legendary oceanic sailor Franck Cammas, the sport of sailing is, unfortunately, going through dire straits…