Record numbers

Text by Jonno Turner
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Record numbers Text by Jonno Turner
 
Whichever way you measure it, the 2014-15 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race was the most successful ever, figures in the official Race Report, released yesterday, show.

The curtain fell on the 12th edition of the 42-year-old event in Gothenburg on June 27, and today’s Report confirms it was the best yet.

Headlines from the Report include:

  • A record number (70,471) of corporate guests receiving unique Volvo Ocean Race experiences – more than three times the previous highest number, achieved in 2011-12, which confirms the Race’s position as a key business platform for its sponsors.
  • The highest footfall (2.4 million) in the event's history, with a 16 percent increase on the daily average number of visitors compared to 2011-12.
  • An increase of 140 percent in online news audience across 113 countries and 27 percent in TV publicity value (€293 million) thanks to improved content from the Onboard Reporters and better quality media covering the Race.
  • 7,663 hours of global TV coverage achieved – a 59 percent rise on 2011-12.
  • The participating teams achieved an average media value of €47.5 million.
“The Volvo Ocean Race offers world-class and unique hospitality opportunities both on and off the water – and the number of guests to experience our programme has tripled on last edition,” said Race CEO, Knut Frostad.

The comprehensive programme provides guests with a range of premium experiences such as the chance to join the sailors on board for Leg Starts and In-Port Races and be the first to welcome the boats – heading out to greet the fleet as it arrives into each new port.

“We have hosted a record number of corporate visitors in eight of our 10 stopovers around the world – a hugely positive global trend,” added Frostad.

One of the most popular aspects of the programme was the Guest Onboard experience, which offered 2,451 guests the opportunity to race in one of the seven Volvo Ocean 65s. That’s a 58% increase on the 2011-12 edition

Frostad continued: “We are giving more people than ever before the chance to taste just what it’s like to race, alongside our elite athletes, out on the water. It’s truly a money-can’t-buy experience.”

In addition to the on-water activities, the Race also provided a premium shore experience, including a glitzy Awards Nights ceremony in each stopover, guided tours of the boats, and tailored business programmes such as conferences and product launches.

In terms of the racing, the decision to switch to a one-design class at the end of the 2011-12 edition paid dividends – with boats often separated by minutes and sometimes seconds, right up to the finish line.

“We saw six out of seven boats win both an offshore leg and an In-Port Race,” said Frostad.

“There were also seven different points ties between two boats or more over the course of the Race, and seven finishes of less than five minutes between teams, which is unprecedented in offshore racing.”

Sailors from 19 different nations took part in the event, with overall winners Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing consisting of the most - an average of 6.9 nationalities on board throughout the Race.

“The Race’s status as a truly global spectacle is a key value – and, in addition to visiting 11 countries around the world, the teams are becoming more international, too,” added Frostad.

The stopovers were shorter and featured interactive activities focused around the Race, such as the ‘Another Day At The Office’ dome and the Volvo Ocean 65 cross section, which illustrated the cramped conditions the sailors endured, and welcomed 497,500 fans on board.

In addition to these attractions, the busy stopover programmes included live concerts, community activities and action displays from Red Bull athletes.

The Onboard Reporters embedded into each boat delivered consistently compelling, high definition content from the most remote corners of the world.

“The main objective this edition was to increase and focus on quality rather than quantity – and we saw a huge improvement in online and print coverage,” said Frostad.

“The likes of The Guardian, the New York Times, China’s People’s Daily, the Financial Times and Forbes covered the Race multiple times – and that’s a key measure for us,” he added. “We saw a 140% increase in online news audience, from a similar number of articles to last race.”

Similarly, in terms of TV news output, the Race’s content was featured by bigger audience channels, leading to a 27% increase in publicity value in this area, to €293 million measured by global media monitoring company Repucom.

Meanwhile, race organisers have continued to pioneer new ways to tell the story of this nine-month human endeavour.

The official Volvo Ocean Race app, delivering tailored, mobile-first content around the clock, received 391,000 downloads during the event – that’s more than double the previous edition.

And the Volvo Ocean Race social media platforms also experienced growth and high levels of engagement – with 1.2 million fans signing up to follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.

The Race continues to deliver highly lucrative opportunities for sponsors. The average team media value, measured by Repucom, was €47.5 million.

Even Team Vestas Wind, which spent much of the Race shore-bound due to damaging the boat in Leg 2, achieved a media value of €28 million.

For the 11 host ports of the race, the financial results were similarly positive. The economic impact of the Race on Alicante, the home of the event’s HQ, was measured at €89.3 million by PricewaterhouseCooper.

The next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race – the 13th – will begin in Alicante, in 2017. Seven ports – Alicante, Auckland, Cape Town, Cardiff, Gothenburg, Lisbon and Newport – have already been announced, with the full route to be disclosed in 2016.