A shocker greeted the international racing community this morning when environmental services company Veolia Environnement announced they were pulling out of their MOD-70 program and terminating their relationship with back-to-back Route Du Rhum winner Roland “Bilou” Jourdain.
The international behemoth has been bleeding money worldwide this past year, laying off thousands, and losing nearly 70% of its value since early 2011. There’s little question they’ve benefitted massively from their nearly decade-long relationship with Bilou and his team, but when numbers look like Veolia’s (NYSE:VE), something’s gotta give. You can read the official statement here.
This is a huge blow to the dozens of people that kept the Veolia team rolling so successfully for the past few years, but the real fear is that it’s just the first blood drawn in a Europe that’s looking down the barrel of various economic guns. A year ago, a big French team previously restricted by the MOD’s nationality limits – like Banque Pop or Groupe Bel – might have jumped at the chance to pick up a better-than-race-ready MOD 70 at a discount. But things have changed…
Our deepest sympathies are with Bilou and the bunch – they are true ambassadors for racing, and their openness and appreciation for Sailing Anarchy’s readers let us open an unprecedented window for you last year that finally gave the English-language world a real look at a world that most of us will never experience ourselves. Thanks guys, and best of luck in getting an even bigger partner to continue your winning ways.
There is definitely a silver lining for someone though; one of America’s top riggers, ocean racers, and multihullers – Veolia boat captain, bowman, and rigger Ryan Breymaier – is available for your big boat campaign!