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Volvo stopover gets government backing

Saturday 27 March 2010, 9:41AM

By Gerry Brownlee

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AUCKLAND

Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today that government will work in partnership with the Auckland City Council to enable the city to host a stopover for the 2011/2012 Volvo Ocean Race.


The government has agreed to contribute $1.5 million from the Major Events Development Fund to support this Auckland City Council initiative.


The Volvo Ocean Race is a high profile round-the-world yacht race, held every three years, and spans a nine month period that includes a number of stopovers to allow for things such as boat maintenance and crews to rest.


"These stopovers provide significant economic benefits for host cities, generating millions of dollars of economic activity and also increasing global media exposure for their port and country," Mr Brownlee said.


"The government wants New Zealand to become a destination of choice for major international sporting, business and cultural events. Providing funding such as this helps to secure these events.


"We have a long and successful track record for hosting sailing and yachting events. This is another opportunity to showcase Auckland and New Zealand to the world.


"Government is pleased to partner the Auckland City Council to enable the stopover," Mr Brownlee said.


A Volvo Ocean Race stopover is likely to see teams staying for a 16 day (three weekends) period in March 2012. Boats would arrive in the first weekend, a ‘festival of sail' would be held in the middle weekend and the third weekend would feature pro-am, in-port racing and the start of the next leg.


"This stopover will also give Aucklanders and New Zealanders an opportunity to feel part of this major international sporting event."


Background


New Zealand hosted a stopover in both the 2001-02 and 2005-06 races (Auckland and Wellington respectively) but was unsuccessful in securing a stopover in the 2008-09 race.


The 2011-12 Volvo Ocean race will start in the northern autumn in Alicate (Spain) and the route will include Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya (China) and Itajai (Brazil). The transatlantic leg begins in Miami and crosses to Lisbon followed by Lorient (France). The race will finish, after nine months sailing, in Galway (Republic of Ireland).


According to official research around 530,000 people passed through the Auckland Viaduct Basin during the Volvo Ocean race stopover in 2002. The research found that 65% of respondents had a good or very good experience, while only 2% of respondents had an unsatisfactory experience. Also, around 80% of respondents felt that it was important for New Zealand to host events such as the Volvo.


The official site for the Volvo Ocean Race is www.volvooceanrace.org.