The historic Russian port city of St Petersburg has been officially announced as the race finish for the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09.
This will be the first time in the race’s 34-year history that the fleet will visit a Russian port and follows the confirmation in late May that Russia will have its own entry in the race backed by St Petersburg businessman Oleg Zherebtsov.
Volvo Ocean Race CEO Glenn Bourke, who was in St Petersburg for a press conference announcing the agreement with City Governor Valentina Matvienko, said it had long been a goal to take the race finish to Russia’s second largest city.
“To finish this event in a city so full of culture, heritage and historical intrigue will make a spectacular finale,” he said.
“Together with the Russian entry in the race, we are delighted to be taking the world’s premier ocean race to the people of St Petersburg. I am confident they will provide a thrilling climax to the 2008-09 event.”
The selection of St Petersburg marks another milestone in the 2008-09 iteration of the race after the decision to take the event through the Middle East, Southeast Asia, India and China.
The race route is nearing completion with the offshore start set for Alicante, Spain, on 11 October, 2008 following an in-port racing series a week earlier. The race is currently scheduled to last nearly 10 months, covering more than 37,000 nautical miles and visiting up to 12 ports.
The fleet winds up its Asian section in Qingdao, China, home to next year’s Olympic sailing regatta, before heading off to South America on its longest and toughest leg, a voyage of more than 12,000 nautical miles. The fleet then heads up the U.S. East Coast to Boston and then across the North Atlantic to Galway before visiting Sweden en route to St Petersburg in late June 2009.
“Russia has made tremendous steps in the last few years in its capacity to host major sporting events and recently won the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi,” Bourke added.
Zherebtsov believes the race finish in St Petersburg will have a "huge impact" on sailing in Russia.
"The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the truly great sporting events," he said.
"We are looking at the new age of sailing in this country and it is fitting that the finish is in St Petersburg because the founder of the city Peter The Great was also the founder of the first Naval Academy here way back in the early 1700s."
Zherebtsov, who will also be a member of the crew of the Russian boat in the race, said he was relishing the prospect. "This really is the biggest adventure in the world. It's awesome to be involved in it and to have the chance to sail round the world on a Volvo Open 70. We are definitley in it to win."
News source: volvooceanrace.org
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