To Russia with Volvo

The historic Russian port city of St Petersburg has been officially
announced as the race finish for the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09.

This will be the first time in the race’s 34-year history that the fleet
will visit a Russian port and follows the confirmation in late May that
Russia will have its own entry in the race backed by St Petersburg
businessman Oleg Zherebtsov.

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Glenn Bourke, who was in St Petersburg for a press
conference announcing the agreement with City Governor Valentina Matvienko,
said it had long been a goal to take the race finish to Russia’s second
largest city.

“To finish this event in a city so full of culture, heritage and historical
intrigue will make a spectacular finale,” he said.

“Together with the Russian entry in the race, we are delighted to be taking
the world’s premier ocean race to the people of St Petersburg. I am
confident they will provide a thrilling climax to the 2008-09 event.”

The selection of St Petersburg marks another milestone in the 2008-09
iteration of the race after the decision to take the event through the
Middle East, Southeast Asia, India and China.

The race route is nearing completion with the offshore start set for
Alicante, Spain, on 11 October, 2008 following an in-port racing series a
week earlier. The race is currently scheduled to last nearly 10 months,
covering more than 37,000 nautical miles and visiting up to 12 ports.

The fleet winds up its Asian section in Qingdao, China, home to next year’s
Olympic sailing regatta, before heading off to South America on its longest
and toughest leg, a voyage of more than 12,000 nautical miles. The fleet
then heads up the U.S. East Coast to Boston and then across the North
Atlantic to Galway before visiting Sweden en route to St Petersburg in late
June 2009.

Zherebtsov, who will also be a member of the crew of the Russian boat in
the race, said he was relishing the prospect. “This really is the biggest
adventure in the world. It’s awesome to be involved in it and to have the
chance to sail round the world on a Volvo Open 70. We are definitley in it
to win.”

St Petersburg also recently announced that it would bid to host the 2020
Summer Olympics after losing out to Athens as the venue for the 2004 Games.