Slowly the details of the new 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race are being revealed. Dates, ports, rules and routes have recently been revealed and one by one teams participating in the race are coming forward. 6 candidates seem to be sure with another 20 syndicates currently considering an entry. With the announced format changes and the increase in competitors, the newest edition promises to be a blast with all the potential to exceed the success of the last edition.

It is still early days but slowly the outlines of the revised format of the Volvo Ocean Race are beginning to take shape. And it promises to be even better than the Race’s last edition. Closer racing, an increased number of teams, exciting stopover venues with great in-port races and festivities, great sailors and exciting multimedia coverage should lead to a great experience for everybody involved, be it viewer, gamer, sailor, sponsor or organizer. It’s gonna be fast and furious with loads of excitement. Let’s see where we are now…..

Course and date set! The next Volvo Ocean Race will take place from 29 October to 8 July, taking eight and a half months, similar to the 2008/09 edition. A difference however is that the course is slightly longer, set at 39,270 nautical miles rather than 37,000. This time there will be 10 rather than 11 stopover cities. Similar to 2008/09 we will start with a first leg from Alicante (Spain) to Cape Town (South Africa) again passing Gibraltar as well as Fernando de Noronha off the Brazilian Coast; a traditional leg where the fleet has to deal with the famous doldrums. The second leg will go from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi, rather than to Cochin (in the last edition). As there is a risk of piracy, the fleet will have to sail around an exclusion zone. Nevertheless this will remain a dangerous leg but with a great finish in store. No doubt Abu Dhabi wants to set itself on the yachting map and we know money will not be an issue here. Next we will go to Sanya in China. No doubt the sailors are happy that they don’t have to go all the way north into the winter of China this time, battling storms etc. In contrast Sanya is the only tropical island province of China, so no complaints from the crews I would imagine. Rather than last time’s very long and tiresome leg China-Brazil, there will now be the traditional stop in between; the fleet will make in stopover in sail crazy Auckland, a stop everybody will agree with and look forward to. The Kiwis will participate with Emerald Team New Zealand in this edition and hence it promises to be an enormous spectacle. From Auckland we will go on to Itajai in Brazil, battling the Southern ocean, always one of the most spectacular legs of the race and also the longest one. Itajai marks of course a change from the usual Rio de Janeiro stop, but appears to be at least as much of a treat. Miami marks the surprising North American stop. Although Ken Read on Puma, the North American entry, might have preferred to go up north a bit further, Miami has the glitz and glamour that fit the race. On to Europe, where Lisbon has the honor to be the first stopover port and this is an honor indeed given that 34 European cities bid for hosting the race. Sailing conditions in Lisbon tend to great and of course the city has a great maritime past. From Lisbon it is on to Lorient in France, home of Groupama. This sound like a short one but this is a deceiving one; the fleet first has to head offshore again, rounding the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores before heading back towards France. Can be a clearly interesting one! Given its great yachting tradition France should be in there and Lorient should be no surprise; it has developed itself in a true European sailing center. The biggest surprise is the finish of the race. After having passed the Fastnet rock, another interesting feature, the race will end in the last edition’s succes number Galway. I had the pleasure to be a guest there during the race’s last edition and one cannot deny it, it was an outright success with more than 650,000 spectators, underlining what good marketing can do to sailing. Clearly Galway hence will be an excellent place to finish! Surprising is that Sweden, the home of the main sponsor Volvo, is not hosting a stopover. All in all the race should offer plenty of variety as far as weather conditions and variety of ports is concerned. For sailors it should be a definite improvement, also underlining that the organisation has listened to them. And as far as the stopover ports is concerned; a good mixture of fun, yachting tradition, glitz and glamour and sail crazyness, whilst simultanously with economically sound benefits! 

Changed in-port format should provide lots of excitement. In the new edition of the race, all ports (including the finishing one – Galway) will host an in-port race, which should be great news for the spectators. A final weekend in a stop-over port will now contain both the in-port races as well as the start of the new leg, which provides for a super weekend. Moreover, it will give both the crew and on-shore team more time to prepare, whilst for the syndicates it will result in cost savings; a win-win situation for everybody. The short course of the In-Port races and the proximity to the stopover harbours and beaches will allow the public to watch the racing up close.

Virtual fun should get even better! We are just at the beginning of convergance of real and virtual……..Although details have not been announced as of yet, I am reasonably convinced the official Volvo Ocean Race Game (produced by United Games) will be even better than last time. In the last edition around 220,000 people participated in a game lasting around 9 months. Gamers had to endure many sleepless nights but also actively experienced what a Volvo Ocean Race really is all about. An absolute highlight could be found in the virtual community steering one of the boats during the last few legs; a true example how the virtual and the real world are converging. Moreover Green Dragon  managed to realise its best result when steered by the gamers, proving the phonomenon of “virtual wisdom”. Hopefully, this will be repeated in the new version of the game. Even without it, there should be plenty improvements to look forward to. I would imagine social media will enter the equation, whilst gameplay and communication features (possibly with the real boats) may also be improved. We have to wait, but it surely will be exciting!

No news as of yet of the multimedia front. We have not heard anything yet of the potential innovations as far as multimedia is concerned. In the last edition we had some spectacular footage of the teams on board shot by the different media crew members of the teams. Additionally some live TV of the starts of the different legs, a race viewer tool, pictures and podcasts, whilst in the mean time the Race has also entered Facebook. It will be interesting to see with what the guys will come up with to increase the Volvo Ocean Race experience. No doubt Twitter will enter the equation and for the remainder we have to wait and see what they come up with. Of course the ultimate would still be to be live on board from behind your screen, watch it when it all happens.

And then the teams…..6 participants so far but more to come…Who are they?

  1. Camper/Emirates Team New Zealand. Camper and Emirates Team New Zealand have joined forces, implying a second footwear sponsor (Puma being the other) is entering the race; good news as yet another B2C sponsor feels it can realise sufficient returns. The skipper and head of the syndicate is one of the icons of sailing, Grant Dalton! It is good news for the race that this 6 times veteran and former winner is returning and undoubtedly he will play a major role. Moreover, as Auckland is one of the stopover ports, expect some Kiwi enthusiamn!
  2. Puma Ocean racing: great to seen Ken Read and his team back. The very distinguished cat will be back and undoubtedly will spice up the race botth ashore and on the water! The team ended the 2008/09 race in second place and hence should be considered as a favourite. For sailing it is good news that Puma extends its focus into premium lifestyle sports, apparently acknowledging that the race offers a good B2C marketing platform. The Puma brand attracts a young fashionable crowd, which is good for the marketability of sailing in the long term  
  3. Groupama: France is back and so it should be! Since the 1993/94 edition no French yacht participated in the race. The formidable Franck Cammas (the fastest sailor around the world, recently having broken the record) will lead the charge with the insurer Groupama being the main financial backer. Groupama has been around a long time in sailing and sees the Volvo Ocean Race as instrumental to develop its overseas business. With Juan Kouyoumdjian (ABN Amro 1, Ericsson 4) designing the boat and stopover port Lorient being the homebase of the team, there will be no lack of support from the French!
  4. Italia 70: Italy is back in the race for the first time since 1993/94. Giovani Soldini is the skipper to watch and with him he will bring a fully Italian crew. The environmental friendly team aims to bring together a group of companies, wwhich will be prepared to support Italia 70 throughout its entry in the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race. The Azurri have already acquired the Volvo Open 70 Ericsson 3, meaning the team can immediately start training. The plan is to generate a new generation of Italian sailors and build a national offshore team. Although the guys are probably not a favourite to win the race, they are here to stay and no doubt the Race will benefit from a little bit of Italian flash, design and grandeur.     
  5. Team Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi has been announced as a stopover city, which, no surprise, had to be followed by a home team and no doubt the emirate will come out with a top notch team.  The crew will be selected by the Abu Dhabo Tourism Authority and these guys are far from short of money. Although it has the ambition to include an UAE national in the crew, one can rest assure that the remaining crew members will be the cream of the crop. The team will construct the boat locally and will construct a new marina. With this proposition Abu Dhabi wants to establish itself as a high quality marine and leisure spot to the world and reestablish its seafaring heritage. Hence a lot is at stake and Abu Dhabi has the financial resources to do it properly. 

A sixth team is yet to be announced whilst there are currently over 20 more syndicates that are actively working on entering a team. This means the Volvo Ocean Race is ahead of the number of teams at the same stage of the last race, which is exceptionally good news given the state of the economy. The new rules (see blog article  apparently seem to do the job, lowering the costs of a campaign. So we have got the New Zealanders, the Yanks, the Azurri, the French and Abu Dabi, all with some very serious names already aboard. Which sailing nations do we miss? To name a few: the UK, Australia, Brazil, Sweden, Spain, China, Ireland and my own country The Netherlands. Undoubtedly a few of the additional names (possibly another Americas Cup team, how about Team Origin?!) to be announced will come from these countries, also in view of some of them hosting stopovers, which should make it more easy to leverage their investments.  Unfortunately there seems to be no Dutch syndicate in the making as of yet, but let’s hope this will change.

Still a year to go……Experience it, it will be worth it! In any case, there is no doubt in my mind, the new edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will be even better than the last one, more close racing, more viewers, more competitors, more virtual reality fun, better festivals, all at lower costs! For the syndicates, sponsors, viewers and virtual players who haven’t decided yet, join!! It will be worth it!

Recently Delloite published its annual Football Money League for the 2008/09 season, in which it profiles the European football with the highest revenue base. Simultaneously the Dutch National Football Union (KNVB) came out with the financial performances of Dutch football clubs. Not surprisingly the revenue gap of Dutch clubs compared to European clubs is substantial and has further increased. Ajax and PSV are leaders within The Netherlands as far as revenues are concerned. Will these teams ever be able to bridge this revenue gap?

Revenues are a fair indication of a club’s relative size. The Deloitte Football Money League is using revenues from day to say football operations to determine a clubs’ relative size. It believes revenues provides the best publicly available financial comparison, rather than fan-base, attendance, broadcast audience or on-pitch success. We tend to agree; revenues are a reflection of aforementioned elements. Moreover revenues are extremely important to the continuing existence of a football club. As fixed costs such as personnel costs (player salaries!) and stadium rent often take up as much as 90% of  total revenues, revenue maximization guarantees not only the ongoing existence of the club but is also providing a good base to improve the on-pitch success and hence fan-base, attendance etc. In this perspective it is not surprising to see that most of Europe’s top clubs (measured in revenues) have been able to grow faster than the second tier clubs.

The rich clubs growing faster than the poor ones…..When analyzing the current top 20 European football clubs measured by revenues, one can conclude that these clubs as a group have grown by 8% over the last 2 years. As a comparison the Dutch Eredivisie has grown 7.7% over the same period. The problem is not so much to be found in the relative growth as it is compared to absolute growth. The top 20 in Europe saw their turnover grow by EUR 290mln, whereas the 18 clubs in de Eredivisie saw their revenues increase by only EUR 30mln. To put it into perspective, Ajax was able to grow its revenue base by EUR 2.3mln from EUR 64.9mln in 2006/07 to EUR 67.1mln in 2008/09, whereas the number 1 in the league, Real Madrid noticed a EUR 50mln increase from EUR 351mln to EUR 401mln. This implies that Real’s increase in sales almost equals Ajax entire turnover level. We can put it differently; The clubs in the five countries with the highest average club turnover for the 2007/’08 season (England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France) represent 13% of the 732 clubs in the 53 highest divisions in Europe, but generate 69% of the € 11.5 billion total European turnover. No doubt the differences will grow further in the future in case there aren’t any changes. The rich will get richer…… It means the slow emergence of a super league consisting of clubs out of the aforementioned big leagues.

Market size essential for revenue generation. This is logical! Sponsors are attracted to the biggest markets and are willing to pay for this! For media the story is not that different; media companies are willing to pay big bucks for those clubs or in those countries, where there are most viewers. Analyzing the build-up of revenues of the top 20, 26% is derived from matchday revenues, 42% from media revenue and 32% from commercial activities. When comparing the Dutch league (Eredivisie), this compares with 27% from matchday, 12% from media and 51% from commercial activities. No doubt the biggest difference can be found in Media income. The average Dutch Eredivisie club receives EUR 2.9mln (ranging from EUR 1.1mln to EUR 6.7mln) in media income vs EUR 82.4mln (ranging from EUR 22mln to EUR 161mln) for a European top 20 club! Or to put it differently; Real Madrid’s media income of EUR 161mln alone already is 2.4x bigger than the total annual revenues of Ajax.

Gap with top 20 still substantial. Well now, would Ajax be able to bridge the gap with the European top 20? Let’s first look at where the club currently stands. As stated, Ajax generates annual revenue of EUR 67.1mln. This compares with EUR 401mln for the number 1 Real Madrid and with EUR 101mln for the number 20 Newcastle United. This also shows the huge differences within the top 20. In fact the top 11-20 all generate less than EUR 150mln. So in order to enter the top 20 Ajax should generate around EUR 35mln turnover. Clearly the easiest way to victory would be to participate in the Champions League. 13 clubs out of the top 20 played in the Champions League last year generating around EUR 37mln on average in additional revenues. Even PSV Eindhoven generated around EUR 36mln in Champions League income. In comparison Ajax generated only EUR 5.1mln from European football last year. Playing group levels in the  Champions League could hence lead to a top 20 place in Europe or at least very close to it. Nevertheless, it remains the question to what extent such a position would be sustainable. We should not forget that the number 18 Borussia Dortmund (revenues EUR 104mln), number 19 Manchester City (revenues (EUR 102mln) and the number 20 Newcastle United (revenues EUR 101mln) all generate these revenues without having played Champions League either. Hence it should be Ajax’ target to grow towards these levels even without playing Champions League. Can this be realized?      

Ajax Revenues (EUR000) 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 % gr 09/05
Ticketing income            
Europe 9344 13304 4385 1111 5055 -46%
Season tickets 8999 8662 9280 9850 10122 12%
Other tickets 3418 5298 6646 6040 4232 24%
Other 1970 1030 1035 2129 786 -60%
Total Matchday 23731 28294 21346 19130 20195 -15%
Total ex Europe 14387 14990 16961 18019 15140 5%
Media income 8260 11871 8834 8207 5479 -34%
Sponsoring 18868 19328 18759 18781 25280 34%
Skyboxes 9586 9513 9833 10198 10031 5%
Merchandising 6180 5424 6119 5576 6169 0%
Commercial income total 34634 34265 34711 34555 41480 20%
Total revenues 66625 74430 64891 61892 67154 1%
Total ex Europe 57281 61126 60506 60781 62099 8%
Total Ex Europe + media 49021 49255 51672 52574 56620 16%


Ajax: 5 year revenue growth has been very disappointing.  Let’s first look at Ajax current growth and revenue mix. Revenues in general mainly consist of commercial revenues, media income and revenues generated during matchday. Over the last 5 years Ajax has barely been able to substantially grow its total revenues. In fact since the 2004/05 season, total revenues have grown by just 1% in total from EUR 66.6mln in 04/05 to EUR 67.1mln in 08/09. Revenues peaked in 2005/06 at EUR 74.4mln, but it has to be said that during that year both media revenues and matchday revenues peaked, mainly the result of the club being active in the Champions League. Because these items (media and champions league income) have an exceptional nature, they distort the picture: media income has come down as the Dutch Eredivisie exploits the television rights as an entity and Ajax has not included the income of the exploited channel as of yet, whilst income from European competitions was EUR 8mln higher in 2005/06 when compared with 2008/09. When stripping out these exceptional items, total underlying revenues have increased by 16%, equaling less than 3% growth per annum and particularly helped through a strong increase of 34% in sponsoring revenues in 2008/09. Without this jump in sponsor income, Ajax revenues would not have shown any increase whatsoever. 16% underlying revenue growth over a period of 5 years may look decent but for a club such as Ajax, but this is a very poor performance of course, certainly when compared to most top 20 clubs, of which most have been able to grow their revenues substantially across the line, so not only in media. Particularly the limited increase in matchday revenues, in merchandising and in sponsoring (with the exception of last year) is disappointing.  

What could Ajax do to bridge the gap with the other clubs without being too dependent on media income? I believe the main strategies forward can be summarized as follows:

  1. Ajax has to improve its Customer Relationship Management. The Ajax brand identity is exceptional and known across the world and hence should attract many fans. B2B and B2C relationships can both still be significantly improved and exploited. The national fanbase of both Ajax and Manchester United are pretty much equal with around 4mln fans. However, the international fanbase of United is many times higher than that of Ajax as United has been much more aggressive in marketing the club abroad. Ajax has cautiously entered China now but could be much more aggressive as revenues from commercial income blatantly prove. Ajax still has a great image and brand value; young and very talented players, offering attractive and spectacular football. Cruyff, van Basten and Bergkamp are just a few names which represent the brand. Their fame will be eternal but if Ajax waits too long the association with the club being a producer of talent will fade away. Fan connection and CRM should hence obtain much ore attention. As a result commercial income (both sponsoring and merchandising could grow much faster)
  2. Matchday revenues could be raised. Again when looking at the figures, one can conclude that matchday revenues over the last 5 years have grown by less than 1% per annum. Clearly it is more difficult to grow revenues when you already attract full capacity crowds, but improved yield management could possibly lead to higher revenues.  When analyzing the top 20 clubs in Europe, one can conclude that with the exception of Borussia Dortmund (explained by the fact that it has many cheaper standing places), Ajax generates the lowest income per seat, whereas it is in the top 10 of Europe as far as average attendance is concerned. Better yield management (has price elasticity ever been checked), on site sales and the likely expansion of the stadium should lead to higher matchday revenues.

Lack of media income remains a problem. Nevertheless these strategies are unlikely to compensate the lack of media income which is holding the club back. The lack of media income is and will remain a problem as long as Ajax is playing in a small country like the Netherlands. Clearly the club has been trying to market the right of its games itself but as long as it is a member of the Dutch National League, this will remain a problem. It’s only hope in this perspective would be the formation of a European Superleague or a merger of several national competitions. However, both seem to be far away at this moment.

Youth and consistency should be name of the game! As a conclusion one can state that Ajax is unlikely to enter the top 20 on a sustainable basis without regular Champions League performances and without putting more emphasis on the items discussed above. As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, strategy should hence be into this direction. As Ajax is unable to generate sufficient income to attract the best players in the world, it should get back to its roots/values and brand identity; young technical players that can excite the crowd and stand for attractive football. As the club has potentially the biggest revenue base in The Netherlands, it should be able to attract the best young players and with this increased focus, it could possibly be active more often in the Champions League than it did during the last few years. Moreover by being a breeding ground of talent this could lead to an extra source of revenue. Only by being consistent going forward, such a scenario is possible. It is this way the club aims to be going. Consistency will hence be the proof of the pudding, let’s wait and see whether the club will be able to execute this.

The yachting calendar counts a multitude of different events. After having witnessed the spectacle of the Americas Cup in February and the Louis Vuitton Trophy in March, focus is now turning to the Carribean and to the announcement of the final routing of the 2011/12 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. We have attempted to list the top 10 yachting events in the world, taking into account issues like coverage, price money, quality of sailors and the history or future potential of an event. The list includes different formats of racing, such as single handed, around the world, ocean, coastal and fleetracing. Clearly the list and rankings are arbitrary but they should give an indication on which events deliver the best spectacle and value.

10. Olympic Games: the Olympics are the greatest sporting spectacle in the world and hence they should be part of our top 10. The Games have produced great sailing legends of the likes of Ben Ainslee, Ian Percy and Torben Grael to name a few. Hence the Games should be seen as a breeding ground for great sailors. Adding that the Games are also being watched by many millions of spectators around the world, we have got 2 major reasons why they should be on our list. Having said so, for television purposes the races are not as spectacular as some of the other events listed below, so work in progress we would say.

9. The World Match Racing Tour. Matchracing is the future and that’s why this event is in! It’s fun, fast and furious and hence should appeal to the younger crowd, important for the future growth of the sports. The World Match Racing Tour is attracting great talent with some of the best sailors in the world, such as Adam Minoprio, sailing legend Peter Gilmour and aces like Ian Williams and Ben Ainslee. Whereas the sport of sailing/yachting is still primarily dependent on sponsoring (particularly B2B), match racing should be very interesting for television as well as for hospitality purposes, which should give the sports a good platform to expand and to become more popular. Close to shore, short races, technical assistance such as virtual eye, on-board cameras and on-board interviews make the sport a lot more appealing to not only TV but also to different user groups. Although it is still lacking the tradition of some of the other events, the upward potential has made us decide to include it on our list.

8. Antigua Sailing Week. The Antigua Sailing Week is the biggest regatta in the Carribean and over the last two decades, Antigua Sailing Week has developed into one of the biggest events in the World Sailing calendar. It is a week of races where some of the biggest, fastest and most impressive sailing yachts in the world packed with Olympic, America’s Cup and round the world sailors are competing. Adding the variety in races, the big boats and the great party atmosphere and here we have an event that should not be lacking on anyone’s list!

7. Cowes week; the Cowes week is tradition all the way. Since 1826 it is one of the UK’s longest running and most successful sporting events. With 40 daily races for over 1,000 boats, 8,500 competitors (amateurs and professionals) and 100,000 spectators, it is without a doubt the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world. With these numbers and this longstanding tradition, it belongs without a doubt within our top 10 of sailing race events in the world.

6 . Louis Vuitton Trophy. Maybe the Trophy has not proven its existence yet but following up on the success of the old Louis Vuitton Cup, it could be a blast! Putting together the exciting format of match racing, Americas Cup Class yachts, some of the best monohull sailors in the world (Barker, Cayard, Ainslie, Bruni) and a large crowd, makes for a great event. Adding large TV screens on site and side events in places such as Auckland, La Maddalena in Sardinia, Nice, Dubai and Hong Kong and you have a great experience that you do not want to miss. As stated before match racing has great potential for the future and that’s why we have included the trophy.

5. Fastnet race. Every sailor has heard of the Fastnet Race. It is one of the most famous offshore yachting races counting 608 nautical miles and taking place along the southern coasts of the UK and Ireland. Weather conditions always play a key role here; either big storms or relatively quiet weather determine a fast and furious or a tactical race. Similar to Sydney Hobart the Fastnet has had its share of casualties, underlining the fact the race is not without danger. With many big names participating and a long history, we rank the Fastnet at 5.

4. Sydney Hobart; say Christmas, Bass Strait, Tasmania, new year and spectacular racing and sailing fanatics filled with passion immediately will answer: Sydney-Hobart!! Without a doubt the Race is one of the most well-known iconic brand names in sailing. With the exception of the Volvo Ocean Race and the Americas Cup there is no yachting event attracting such huge media coverage. The “Bluewater Classic” has grown over the last 64 years to become one of the top three offshore yacht races in the world and now attracts maxi yachts from all around the globe. One of the reasons for the popularity of the race are the unpredictable and sometimes grueling conditions with high winds and difficult seas, sadly having also led to tragedies. Finally a top 10 list should not be complte without a race in one of the most crazed sailing nations, Australia.

3. Vendee Globe The Vendée Globe is a round the world single handed yacht race, sailed non-stop and without assistance. The race was founded by in 1989, and since 1992 has taken place every four years. As the only single-handed non-stop round-the-world race, one can say it is probably the most extreme form of ocean racing, being a serious test of individual endurance. Not surprisingly a significant portion of the entrants usually retire, but the one succeeding waits eternal fame and prey. Names as two times winner Desjoyeaux and Ellen Mc Arthur are just some of the wellknown heroes who succeeded in finishing the race, but there are many more……the Vendee (similar to the Volvo Ocean Race) now has leveraged its race to the on-line community with hundred’s of thousands of participants. This convergence no doubt will further add to the popularity of the Vendee!

2. Americas Cup. And then there is the Americas Cup! Of course the Americas Cup should be on the number one spot! However, we chose not to do so after the recent dismantling of the Cup. Although the actual race in Valencia was awesome to watch and a magnificent display of technology, the 33rd Americas Cup sadly will go into the history books as the one mainly battled out in Court. In this perspective Larry Ellison is left with a big responsibility to regain the status that the Americas Cup should have; the world’s most prestigious sailing event. We trust Ellison and Coutts to be able to do this. Sailing is in their hearts and that’s why we believe the 34th version will be a blast! It is likely to be a multichallenger event, more international than ever before and great for spectators; there will be short furious races, cameras and microphones on-board, leading to an on-board experience and likely a new much more affordable to many boat type. It should excite young people and certainly when the Cup will take place in San Franciso, which will receive a huge economic boost as a result of the Cup. If Ellison and co. is able to do this, the Americas Cup will be the flagship event of sailing again that it once used to be. In that case the Cup will regain the number one spot on our list again.

1. Volvo Ocean Race. The Formula One of sailing! For sailors it is one of the ultimate sailing experiences, tough and asking enormous endurance capabilities. Subsequently it attracts together with the Americas Cup the best sailors of the world. Similar to Formula One team budgets have increased tremendously, limiting the number of campaigns. The new rules should improve this situation and make the race more accessible again. For spectators the race offers plenty. The boats are like race horses reaching enormous speeds in wild conditions at sea offering some good pictures and films taken by on-board media guys. Additionally (similar to the Vendee) the Race has converged with the on-line community that even assisted the Green Dragon in the last Volvo Ocean Race. The Race is attracting huge gatherings in the ports where the fleet makes a stop-over. In these ports a variety of side events combined with in-port races guarantee a great experience and a great boost to economic activity. The combination of the best sailors and boats in the world, endurance, round the world, experience, economic and media impact makes the Volvo Ocean Race the best package in our opinion and that is why it is the number one on our list!

No doubt the list offers plenty of room for debate. Feel free to comment, add or delete events and share your opinion!