The Volvo Ocean Race has confirmed plans to move to a two-year cycle after the upcoming 2017/18 edition.
Since its inception in 1973, the race has stuck to a three-year cycle. The next scheduled edition after 2017/18 was set to take place in 2021/22, but will now kick off in 2019, followed by further races in 2021/22 and 2023/24.
The Volvo Ocean Race first announced that it was considering such a move at its "The Next Decade" event, held last month at the home of event title sponsor Volvo in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Speaking at that event, chief executive Mark Turner told SportsPro that the proposed two-year cycle "would give plenty of breathing space between events but would let us go to more markets overall." The current model, he added, meant there was "a lot of noise for a year and then two years of very low noise and that’s not helpful on any front."
On the confirmation of the two-year programme, Turner added: "The shorter cycle means we could shorten each edition by a few months from the current eight- or nine-month format, but nonetheless go to more markets in total over each period of four years and two races. At the same time we will strengthen the core DNA and heritage of the race – always being around the world, and always having the southern oceans around Antarctica at its heart.”
At the event in Gothenburg, Turner also announced several other changes for the race, including a greater number of stopover host cities around the world, and the use of two boats per team: a monohull for open-ocean racing and a catamaran for in-shore, stadium sailing-style events.
The 2017/18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on 22nd October and finishes in The Hague, in the Netherlands, in June next year.
Mark Turner, speaking at the Volvo Ocean Race's "The Next Decade" event