Mills unveils Ocean Masters as Barca sponsors renew

Organisers of the Barcelona World Race have confirmed three key sponsor renewals.

Organisers of the Barcelona World Race have confirmed three key sponsor renewals.

The third edition of the event, due to begin on 31st December 2014, will be backed by Estrella Damm, Renault and Johnson & Johnson. The Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing (FNOB), which organies the double-handed, non-stop round-the-world race, added that a new race village would be established on Barcelona's famous Ramblas.

The details were announced on Friday as Open Sports Management, the agency created by British entreprenuer Sir Keith Mills to commercialise International Mononhull Class Association (IMOCA) events, revealed details of the revamped Open 60 ocean racing format.

The Open 60 class will compete in the rebranded Ocean Masters World Championship, which will crown a champion every two years. All of IMOCA's existing races, including the Barcelona World Race, the Transat Jacques Vabre and the single-handed Vendee Globe, will be part of the championship, along with newly-created events.

The first new event, a double-handed transatlantic race between New York and Barcelona, will begin from the foot of the Statue of Liberty in June.

Mills, speaking in Paris as the rebranded Ocean Masters World Championship was launched, said: “The creation of Ocean Masters, a new, strong and powerful brand for the IMOCA Class, will allow us to attract new commercial partners, with an opportunity for one of those partners to become the title sponsor of the Ocean Masters World Championship, and by doing that we plan to attract further investment into the class and to give the public increased access to the amazing footage from these ‘masters of the ocean’."

He added: "To build up a large global sporting circuit like Formula One, we need to offer large numbers of fans and followers a truly global circuit of events, where they can follow the progress of the class at each stage and event, supporting their skipper or team, and take part in the incredibly emotional intensity that attracts these amazing men and women to this sport.”

Mills, who owns the Alex Thomson Racing team, formed OSM in October 2012 after acquiring the commercial rights to IMOCA events, with the aim of globalising a sailing class historically dominated by French sailors, teams and sponsors.