The 30 minute phone interview we ran with Brad Van Liew on his Velux 5 Oceans Race performance the other day was perhaps a bit dark, colored by both the interviewer’s being somewhat caught up in the fanfare around the Barcelona World Race and Brad’s own position in some gnarly conditions in a deep low pressure system at the bottom of the world. He sent a little clarification of his comments and the general tone of the interview:
I had a few thoughts about our chat the other day after I got through theworst of the storm, and I have to say that your speaking of our little fleet as being "spread all over the world" is a bit un-informed. Three out of the four of us have been in the lead on multiple occasions since leaving Cape Town, and Derek and Gutek are having an epic battle, swapping positions constantly over the last ten days, sometimes in sight of each other despite being thousands of miles into the leg. For the effort the 4 of us are putting forth to race competitively to be under represented is crap,especially when last time I checked we are still beating the shit out of ourselves SOLO around the globe. It’s individually no less an achievement than ever before, so let’s give credit where credit is due.
It’s great that the BWR organizers have done such a positive job of growing and promoting their race, but you can’t compare a race so strongly supported by the government with a privately funded event like the Velux. Let’s not forget that IMOCA, the Open 60 concept, and all the shorthanded ’round the world races are direct descendents of this event, so whether or not it ever even happens again, the Velux will never be ‘irrelevant.’
I’m as much of a fan of the IMOCA concept as anyone, and I was one of the original members before it was fully frankified. I have high hopes for the organization and I love the events, but anyone who watched the three-year period that led to ORMA’s implosion will see many similarities between those days and what we’re seeing in IMOCA today. Just as the organizers of the VELUX are going to need to come up with some creative ways to re ignite the size of the fleet in the Velux 5 oceans for their race, the BWR and IMOCAare going to need to look deep into their own situations to figure out how to keep them sustainable as well over the coming years, especially if the economy grows as slowly as most expect.
Open 60 racing is a great segment of a great sport, let’s stay positive and help it stay viable and make sure we support the sponsors that invest so heavily in the world of sailing.