Russians confirm entry in Volvo Ocean Race 29/5/07

The first Russian-flagged entry for the Volvo Ocean Race confirmed its participation in the 2008-09 event today.

Backed by Oleg Zherebtsov, a St Petersburg businessman, the yacht will be skippered by former Austrian Olympic Star sailor Andreas Hanakamp. Managing the team will be Michael Woods, who was Director of Race Operations for the Volvo Ocean Race 2001-02.

“We will use the best international resources available to put together a competitive team in the 16 months we have available to design and build the boat and then have full training and sail testing programme,” commented Hanakamp who also confirmed that there will be a strong Russian element to the campaign.

Oleg Zherebtsov, founder and chairman of Russian hypermarket chain Lenta, said: “The boats and the new course make the race a challenge, an adventure and a competition that I am excited about taking part in.”

Commenting on the announcement, Glenn Bourke, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, said: “We are delighted to have another confirmed entry in the race and we our especially pleased to have a Russian boat, which will further broaden the global interest of the race.”

The team plans to launch their new Volvo Open 70 in April next year to allow a full programme of sail testing and crew training in the North Atlantic before the start in Alicante, Spain in October 2008.

Prior to April, the team will use a Volvo Ocean 60 (the former Merit Cup), for crew selection and plans to develop new talent in order to create a crew of youth and experience.

The Russian announcement brings the number of confirmed entries in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 to seven. Both Ericsson Racing Team from Sweden, and Pedro Campos’ team from Spain will enter two boats each, joined by the US-flagged Puma Racing Team and Mean Machine from The Netherlands.

The 2008-09 event will be the 10th running of this ocean marathon. Starting from Alicante in Spain, in October 2008, it will, for the first time, take in ports in Asia. Spanning some 39,000 nautical miles, stopping at around 11 ports and taking nine months to complete, the Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s premier yacht race for professional racing crews.