Global Ocean Race launched in Palma
In the early evening of Monday 13 December, the Balearics Tourism Ministry hosted a press conference held in the Es Baluard Contemporary Art Museum, just to the northwest of the city’s magnificent, Gothic, La Seu Cathedral, to announce plans for the start and finish of the doublehanded round the world race for Class40s: the Global Ocean Race 2011-12.
VIPs on the guest list included Antonio Munar Cardell, Director General of Tourism Development; Commodore Nadal of the Club de Mar; Emilio Feliu Serra, an International Judge from the Spanish Sailing Federation; Francesco Triay, President of the Balearic Islands Port Authority; Patrick Regnes representing the Marina de Mallorca and the STP shipyard and Piers Williams, CEO of the Global Vision Sailing Trust.
Tolo Frau and Guiseppe Carta are the Mallorca-based, co-organisers for Palma and are a vital component in the GOR: Frau – a native Mallorcan – opened the packed press conference with a passionate address: “This is a really fantastic opportunity for Mallorca to travel around the world with the Global Ocean Race,” he explained. “The media strategy for the race is impressive with guaranteed exposure for Mallorca and the race sponsors in print, on the web, via the social media platforms of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook and through satellite and terrestrial broadcasting,” continued Frau. “The Global Ocean Race is a truly international event and I am extremely proud that Mallorca is a key part of this fantastic, unique and innovative race.”
Frau’s business partner, Guiseppe Carta, has been resident in Mallorca for three years and the Italian’s background in Formula One racing will bring an exciting dimension to the GOR presence in Palma and at the race stopovers thropughout the circumnavigation. The base for the GOR fleet and Official Race Village in Palma is a 2,500 square metre area in the Marina de Palma secured through co-operation with the marina authorities and STP shipyard. The Race Village zone is in the centre of the port of Palma and the GOR Class40 fleet will be moored in a secure area directly off the Passeig Maritime running alongside the harbour with extensive public access. “The Race Village will be based on the Formula One model,” Carta confirms. “There will be restaurants; retail outlets; a VIP Guest area; a Business Centre; a zone for the Media and for GOR and sponsor-related presentations,” he continued. “It is a very exciting project and the support we have from the Balearic Tourism Ministry, the Port Authority and local government is very encouraging.”
Josh Hall, Race Director of the GOR, continued the meeting by recognising the commitment shown by Frau and Carta: “I have to thank Guiseppe and Tolo for the vision of bringing the race to Mallorca,” said Hall. “It is the most stunning and cosmopolitan city and I know that all our teams and their sponsors are overjoyed that Palma is the start port and they will all be looking forward to finishing the race in Mallorca at the end of a 33,000 mile circumnavigation,” he continued. “I would also like to thank the Mallorcan government groups and officials who have shown such genuine enthusiasm and support for the GOR.”
Hall went on to introduce three skippers competing in the GOR. Michel Kleinjans, winner of the single-handed division in the inaugural GOR in 2008-09; Spanish yachtsman and America’s Cup sailor, Juan Carlos Oliva, who will be competing in the GOR as part of Lenjohn and Peter van der Wel’s team entry, and Jacques Fournier, President of the Class40 Association.
Belgian sailor, Michel Kleinjans, explained his personal overview of the GOR: “I suppose some people never learn, and now I’m back again for another circumnavigation,” said Kleinjans, laughing softly into the microphone. “My dream was to sail solo round the world and the last edition of the race was enjoyable, very well organised and there was a great atmosphere throughout the event.” Kleinjans was the only competitor in the solo division of the race to complete all five legs of the circumnavigation on his Open 40, Roaring Forty. “However, I was the only boat racing solo for over half of the race and now I’m back and I’m aiming to win double-handed on a new Class40 against some serious competition.” JC Oliva joined Kleinjans on stage and explained the GOR team entry he has recently joined with the two, Bahamas-based, South African, Van der Wel brothers: “I’ll be completing the entire circumnavigation and Peter and Lenjohn will alternate in the co-skipper spot, swapping over during the stop-overs,” explained the Spanish yachtsman. “I am really looking forward to the racing and spending time here in Palma during the pre-race build-up,” he continued. “It is also a great honour to represent my country in a truly international event.”
Jacques Fournier, President of the Class40 Association, was the last GOR skipper to speak at the press conference and had endless enthusiasm for the GOR and for Palma as the host city: “The Class40 Association consists of over 100 boats and proposes a large range of offshore races,” said Fournier, whose Class40, Groupe Picoty, recently completed the Route du Rhum in the highly-capable hands of his French, GOR co-skipper, Jean-Edouard Criquoiche. “The class is going to become even more international through the Global Ocean Race,” he continued. “The exceptional number of entrants registered so far shows the high interest and enthusiasm in the world of offshore sailing for this event dedicated to Class40 yachts.” Fournier is delighted with the event’s concept: “Worldwide, many skippers were dreaming about an around the world race where sailors could compete in a friendly way,” he confirmed. “The Global Ocean Race is a dream come true and fits perfectly with the Class40 spirit where - beyond the intense competition - friendship and human sharing is assured.”
The GOR has clearly tapped into a popular spirit among in the offshore yacht racing community: “These dreams - sometimes slightly crazy - become reality thanks to the ambition of Class40 to make offshore sailing accessible with achievable budgets,” Fournier explained. “It is impossible not to captivate a sailor when talking about the famous stopovers: Cape Town; Wellington; Punta del Este; Charleston and the legendary seas that will be crossed: the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans,” said the Class40 Association President. “Congratulations to Josh Hall and the officials of Mallorca for the imagination and drive in organising such a beautiful itinerary. Let’s wish great success and longevity to the Global Ocean Race.”