CAN TEAM RUSSIA BE RE-BORN?
Hopes are running high that Team Russia will attract sufficient funding to allow a return to the Volvo Ocean Race track next year, according to race CEO Knut Frostad.
The campaign raised and funded by Russian supermarket entrepreneur Oleg Zherebtsov was disbanded just hours after the crew arrived in Singapore at the end of the third leg when it was confirmed that the funds had run out as a direct consequence of the global economic crisis.
Frostad was informed six weeks ago that the campaign was in trouble and has worked with Zherebtsov and his management team to find a solution. It is estimated that the campaign needs a further 1.5 million euros to complete the race.
"We have been trying to help them but no more funding has been secured in time for the restart in Singapore so the team has withdrawn from the next two legs of the race.
"We will keep on working to get them back into the race. It is symptomatic of what is happening across the world of sport. The world economic crisis has a impact on every company associated with this race and it was inevitable that cost cutting would extend to marketing and sponsorship as we have seen in many sports."
The boat will be sailed to Cape Town by Austrian skipper Andreas Hanakamp and a team of Austrian sailors while attempts are made to raise funds.
"If we have secured some parties interested in funding, they could continue to Rio for a restart or go on to Europe to be ready for subsequent legs," explained Frostad.
"But with the present financial climate it is very difficult to say whether we will see Team Russia in this race again because it is not easy for anyone to get sponsorship at the moment. But we are working hard on it and have a number of options."
"The Team Russian campaign is an interesting campaign with a strong Russian identity. It is a solid boat and the team have done a good job bearing in mind the uncertainty surrounding the campaign which has made it difficult for them to focus.
"The crew are devastated. This is a lifelong dream for many of them so it has come as a shock but it is a fact of life that companies are making drastic reductions. I feel sorry for everyone involved and I hope that we can get some of them back.
"Oleg is also very disappointed. He has worked hard to get this campaign to the start line but he is optimistic about the future and motivated to keep working hard with us to look for new opportunities.