At the UK offices of Sevenstar in Southampton, the RORC confirmed the leading Dutch specialist yacht transport company as title sponsor of the next Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race due to start from Cowes, Isle of Wight on 10 August 2014.
Sevenstar sponsored the race in 2006 and 2010 when 30 yachts from nine different nations competed in a thrilling and world record breaking event. In the latter race three records were broken, including Franck Cammas' Groupama VO70, completing the course in 5 days 21 hrs 2 mins and 55 seconds, breaking Dee Caffari's 2009 record for the 1,802 mile non-stop course set aboard her IMOCA 60 Aviva by over half a day.
Richard Klabbers, Managing Director of Sevenstar, who himself competed in the last two events, and secured victory in IRC Two aboard Harry Heijst's S&S 41 Winsome, explains the reason for their sponsorship: "After beating upwind for 14 days non-stop in the now renowned 2010 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, I am hooked on this event!
"We are very proud to be the title sponsor once again and feel that the determination and tenacity this endurance race demands from competitors is in line with what Sevenstar stands for as the Global leader in Yacht Transport. Together with what the RORC stands for in terms of values, traditions and reliability, we are certain to be the right partner for the race and the RORC. We also believe that this race is attractive to the serious offshore racer and we will see an impressive fleet at the start line in 2014."
New Prize Incentive: $20,000 transport voucher
Sevenstar also announced a significant new incentive for competitors in the race - a prize for the first boat under IRC rating will receive a US$20,000 voucher for yacht transport to their selected destination in the world.
"As organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club is delighted to secure this long term partnership with Sevenstar Yacht Transport who have now supported the race for the last three events," said RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen.
"I won't forget the hair-raising sight as I watched the 2010 race explode into action under grey leaden skies and big breeze. It was a magnificent start, 25 knots from the southwest with gusts of up to 30 knots coming out of the Medina River. All the yachts made an impressive sight as they charged down the Solent! This race is much more challenging than an Atlantic crossing because the crews will face the vagaries of the tides and unpredictable weather; dodging oil rigs and container ships and constant sail changing as the course alters at each major headland."
The race attracts a diverse fleet including multihulls, IMOCA 60s and Class40s, but the overall winner will a yacht racing under IRC. It is expected to attract top professional teams as well as seasoned RORC members and the less experienced offshore sailors. The last edition included world champions, racing 'rock stars' as well as newcomers to the sport.
In 2010 two Volvo Open 70s used the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race in 2010 as a trial before the start of the 2011-12 fully crewed round the world race. It was the first time Telefonica (ESP) and Groupama (FRA) had raced each other.
Today, Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad confirmed their support for the 2014 edition, which starts two months before the Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante: "The Volvo Ocean Race wholeheartedly support the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race as it's an ideal race for our teams to use as a warm up with the new one design VO65 fleet. The testing conditions round Britain and Ireland are perfect for an extreme shakedown and also offers the chance for teams to race up against each other for the first time before they head for Alicante and the start of the 2014 Volvo Ocean Race."
Jonny Malbon skippered the IMOCA 60 Artemis Ocean Racing to a new course record for an IMOCA 60 and, surprisingly, overall victory under IRC in the 2010 race. Malbon commented: "I hope that we will be able to return in 2014 to defend our title once again. It's such a fantastic race, very demanding with lots of corners and opportunities to make both gains and losses. It is a course we have very much enjoyed over the years with Artemis and the team and I hope the fleet will be as diverse and exciting next time as it was in 2010. Thanks to both RORC and Sevenstar for organising and sponsoring such a special race."
The last boat to finish the race in 2010 was Adrian Lower's Swan 44 Selene from the Royal Burnham Yacht Club which took two weeks to complete the course compared with only six days for the biggest boats. Twice as long in a boat half the size, what a feat; the very essence of Corinthian RORC racing.