The news coming from Istanbul since about a week is excellent for the Volvo Ocean Race in particular and the sport of sailing in general. Although the project was very secretive, there were strong rumors circulating in the sailing circles of Istanbul that the announcement of a Turkish entry in the round-the-world race was imminent.
It has now been confirmed that Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, will make an announcement on Thursday, January 30th, making the entry official. There are some facts that have been corroborated and others that still aren’t clear.
Firstly, it is nearly certain the team is sponsored by Alvimedica, a Turkish medical group in the Cardiovascular and Endovascular sectors. Although the name might not sound familiar, Alvimedica Sailing Team has been active since 2011 and are currently taking part in the country’s races with an ILC 30 and a Farr 40.
Turkish sailors, still, lacking any serious offshore sailing expertise, Team Alvimedica will be crewed by All-American Ocean Racing, a team of young American sailors, all of them under 30 years old, that has been trying for some time now to mount a Volvo Ocean Race campaign. There will probably be one Turkish sailor onboard but it isn’t clear yet who it will be and what position he will have.
This entry is yet another confirmation of the increasing weight Turkey is gaining in the sport of sailing. Istanbul has played host to the Extreme Sailing Series in 2011, 2012 and 2013 while the American Express Bosphorus Cup is steadily growing with an ambitious goal to become a major international regatta in the region.
According to our sources in Istanbul, Turkey’s involvement in the Volvo Ocean Race might go well beyond a team. It is rumored that the VO65 fleet will set sail in Istanbul and head to Alicante, sometime in the month of September, for what is called “Leg 0″. It is meant to be a general drill for the entire organization and the teams and last time it started on October 7th, 2011, in Alicante. It was approximately 350 miles long and the six yachts first rounded a number of marks close to Alicante, then headed to Palma, rounded another set of marks on the Palma Bay and finally returned to Alicante.
What is more impressive though, albeit still a rumor, is the intention Istanbul has to become the starting port of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. We don’t see why it couldn’t! Turkey wasn’t successful in its bid to host the 2020 Olympics and as a result it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the country tried to host other, smaller, but still important, sporting events. Maybe the Mayor of Istanbul could also give Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts a call and present a bid to become the venue of the 35th America’s Cup. You never know…