On the heels of breaking the decade-old ‘round the island’ record, today Michel Desjoyeaux, easily the world’s most successful solo racer of the past decade, announced that as of December, sponsor Foncia is OUT. Their five-year partnership could hardly have produced a better result for the huge real estate conglomerate; Mich Desj won the Solitaire du Figaro, the Vendée Globe, a Transat Jacques Vabre, the Europa Race and the Bol d’Or Mirabaud.
This shocker comes on the heels of two other major offshore sponsors deserting the sport; you’ll remember that both Groupama (Franck Cammas) and Veolia (Roland Jourdain) quit the sailing business over the past six months, and now Desjoyeaux will need to find 4 million dollars per year just to keep his MOD-70 afloat for next year’s MOD Europe Tour and 2014’s round-the-world spectacle.
Mich’s search for a new sponsor will no doubt provide the best-yet barometer for a couple of essential questions for the sport: Just how much impact will France’s faltering economy and the recent political shakeup have on sailing sponsorship in the country that’s done it better than any other; and how much faith do potential sponsors have in the Multi One Design circuit’s ability to deliver exposure.
Because there is one thing for sure: If MichDesj can’t do it, no one can.