Human challenges in Volvo Ocean Race

Pirate threats and a global financial crisis - the route by sail around the world has provided many challenges for the organisation behind the Volvo Ocean Race. “But we’ve ridden out all the storms,” says the CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, Knut Frostad.

The weather is excellent in Galway, making it one of the most successful stops in the race to date, says Frostad, referring to the 100,000 spectators that have just visited the in-port race – in a city of 75,000 residents. “Our strategy in Europe has been to select the cities that we believe can provide the best quality arrangements for the event,” says Frostad. “In Galway we have received the best possible support from the city and the authorities. Occasionally it can be difficult to connect with the target audience in a large city, but in small Galway the race has been a total delight,” he says.

In addition, from the purely commercial perspective, the stop in Galway has been a great success, since the Volvo Group has invited more than 650 clients to enjoy the warm weather, the lively atmosphere, and the historic and beautiful city. “Europe is actually quite accessible, so people living in other countries find it quite easy to travel here, and it is easy to maximise the media coverage,” Frostad says. To date, each stop-over on the race has attracted between 300 and 700 accredited journalists. In Galway, approximately 60% of the media was from the Republic of Ireland, while the remainder had flown in from the corners of the world, including the press from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the U.S.  And also some journalists come from China and India. “ The new route over Asia has introduced the sport of sailing to a completely new audience. Significant numbers of people in China and India are following the race, according to the statistics we take on a weekly basis. This translates naturally into the Volvo brand receiving a great deal of exposure in these crucial markets,” he says.

Frostad and his organisation have handled many tough challenges during this round-the-world race, including terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, which put the security of the stop under scrutiny, threats from pirates off the east coast of Africa, and untested logistics challenges on the new Asian stretch, all framed by the global financial crisis.  But this is part of the challenge, he says. A worldwide competition, held in every part of the world over such a long time, should be prepared for a lot to happen. “This is what makes the Volvo Ocean Race such a unique experience and the optimal base for building brand awareness and support,” Frostad says.
Proof of the fascination the Volvo Ocean Race holds for so many is found in The Volvo Ocean Race – The Game, an online game that lies modestly positioned on the race’s website but is currently attracting 210,000 players clicking in from more than 190 countries.
“Our computer game is one of the most attractive for the world’s gaming communities – and that says it all.”