The $6.4 million race

New round the world event with highest ever entry fee designed to put Freo back on the sailing map

Wednesday April 10th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
As a sailing venue par excellence, but stuck out near Perth in Western Australia, Fremantle has hosted and said goodbye to the America’s Cup and also the Whitbread, now the Volvo Ocean Race.

In an exercise in putting this great sailing venue back on the map, the Royal Perth Yacht Club have introduced a new innovative race combining big bucks with the best in ocean racing.

Starting in Freo on 4 December 2004, the Antarctica Cup will be a non-stop blast through the Southern Ocean, leaving the three great capes of Leeuwin, Horn and Good Hope to port (or Antarctica to starboard) before returning to Freo. In our view a race through the Southern Ocean, the best bit of the Volvo Ocean Race, is a course which has been crying out for an event. But it should be noted - at 14,600 nautical miles in length it does not constitute a ‘round the world’ race.

The event is to be raced by national teams (entered via yacht clubs) in 25m (82ft) Ron Holland one designs built in Western Australia. The boat at present is known as the Antarctica Cup One Design Maxi Yacht and will have a glass/foam sandwich construction with a carbon spar. It will come ready to sail (ie including sails). Boats must have at least 10 crew and complete 100 hours of training off the coast of Western Australia. Interestingly the entry fee of US$4,625,000 includes the price of the boat.

The Antarctica Cup will have a total purse of $6.4 million with the line honours boat taking between $2.5 million and possibly as much as $4.65 million. Although non-stop the race is divided up into 11 sections of 600-2,200 miles length, each one starting and finishing through a gate, either physical (such as Cook Strait or Southern Ocean islands) or virtual (a waypoint). $100,000 will go to the fastest boat on each leg, which may not necessarily be the winner and there will also be a points scoring system (winner getting one point, second place two points,etc).

The gates play a dual role as they will prevent the competing yachts straying too far south into iceberg territory.

Driving force behind this new event is Fremantle businessman Bob Williams, the former owner of the Australian basketball team, the Perth Wildcats. Williams was one of Western Australia’s most successful ocean racers in the 1980s with his pocket maxi Freight Train and has gathered around him a team of international sailors, including patron of the race Sir Jim Hardy and Australia II veteran John Longley.

On the subject of the new one-designs, Williams commented "my aim has been to create a new design for this great race, that presents an exciting high performance platform, yet acknowledges, the desirability of greater safety margins than would have been possible to achieve outside the one design concept". The organisers claim the reason for a one design is also to keep costs down and create a level playing field. It will also promoter a greater degree of crew comfort on board.

It is planned for the race to run every two years. Former Australia II crewman and Fremantle resident John Longley commented "it is not often that a great idea corresponds with a great need. I am sure that everyone interested in long distance, blue water ocean racing will be captivated by the potential of this great race".

The organisers have been a little ambitious with the time frame. Closing date for receipt of race slot reservation forms is 12 July 2002 while final agreements must be signed by 30 September 2002. The race is limited to 15 boats.

For more information click here

See page 2 for a map of the course...
and page 3 for a breakdown of the prize money...

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