The sailors have to work hard for their prize, but then again the prize hardly has it easy. The Volvo Ocean Race Trophy, the reason the sailors take on this incredible challenge, is currently enduring a voyage of its own.
Since its unveiling in November, it has travelled to seven race-related events in four countries on two continents, offering a glittering reminder at each press conference and function that for all the investments, marketing and hype that go into the race, the sailors only have one thing in their sights.
The trophy arrives in Stockholm, Sweden today for the latest destination of its tour. It will stay there until 13 March, before returning to Alicante having racked up somewhere in the region of 10,000 miles travelling to and from the various venues – mileage any offshore sailor would be proud of.
Its maiden voyage was to the Paris Boat Show from 3 December until 12 December, promoting a stopover in Lorient that will mark the race’s first return to France since 2002. It was there, among some of the show’s 500,000 visitors and adjacent to the trophy, that Groupama skipper Franck Cammas announced the crew members who would assist in his battle to capture it.
From France it was off to the Real Club Nautico de Palma, Mallorca on 14 December. In front of more than 300 CAMPER employees, skipper Chris Nicholson explained why their company was backing a top project. “I believe that we have created a team that can win the Volvo Ocean Race,” he said as he revealed his crew. Will CAMPER’s name be engraved on the trophy’s top ring next year? Time will tell.
A month later, on 13 January, the trophy was back on mainland Spain in Toledo for a two-day Groupama function and thereafter followed a trip to Madrid from 18 - 23 January. The government of the Valencian community was showcasing the prize at the International Tourism Fair, where race CEO Knut Frostad and Francisco Camps, the president of the region, were among 250,000 visitors and more than 7,000 journalists, explaining the race brand and the role the event is playing in boosting the Valencian economy. To that end, it was estimated that there were more than 900,000 visits to the Alicante race village ahead of the start in 2008, people intrigued by the challenge of racing around the world.
By the end of the month the trophy was en route to Abu Dhabi where, on 27 January, it was a focal point at the unveiling ceremony of Adil Khalid, the UAE national who beat more than 120 other candidates in the quest to join Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team. He will make history as the first man from his country to take on this challenge.
In February the trophy reached Sweden and for nine days from 5 February it stood at the Gothenburg Boat Show, acting as a centrepiece as sailing luminaries such as Volvo Ocean Race legend Magnus Olsson delivered inspiring speeches. Days later it was at the Volvo Group’s headquarters and now it’s in Stockholm for the boat show. Three months and seven functions with a combined total of nearly one million visitors: a lot of eyes have been on the prize.