The Queen of Arabian Sea, Kochi(Cochin) in Kerala, is all set to host the Volvo Ocean Race, the world’s premier offshore catching event. It’s the first for India and thus an added feather in Kerala’s hat.
The Volvo Race is a 33,000-nautical mile odyssey of unimaginable highs and desperate lows, that is played out on a worldwide stage over nine months. It takes place in key cultural and economic regions across the globe as well as the remote reaches of the planet.
It is a golden opportunity for Kerala Tourism to be featured in the same league as Rio and Singapore. For yatching lovers, the race will ensure that Kerala becomes a familiar name. The Volvo Ocean Race is targeted for the luxury and elite segment of world travellers, which constitutes the top 1-2% of the global population.
The overall budget to host such an event, which is scheduled to touch Kerala on December 3, 2008, is pegged at Rs 15 crore. Starting in Alicante, Spain in late 2008, the race is looking at a course that could navigate through Cape Town, Kochi, Singapore, Shanghai and then go on to South America and the US.
The yatchs will be docked in Kochi until the December 13, 2008. The 10 days will encompass a number of in-port events and will replicate a festive activity including events such as in-port racing and number of cultural events. The aim is to draw a number of Indian and foreign tourists.
Around 5,000 hotel rooms will be required at this time to host the estimated number of travellers in Kerala. The plan is also to televise, and hence bring in some broadcasting revenue for the sport, apart from positioning Kerala as a cruise destination. Usually, the Volvo Ocean race charges e10 million as a license fee to be a part of the event. However, the race has made an exemption for Kerala, as it is hosting it for the first time.
Out of the four Indian ports, ie, Mumbai, Chennai, Goa and Kochi; considered for the event, Kochi was choosen. The booming shipping port on the Malabar Coast, Kochi is also the closest Indian port to the international sea routes.
The Yachting Association of India (YAI), an active advocate of the race coming to India, sees the hosting of a stopover as an important boost to India’s ongoing campaign to establish itself as a venue for hosting major sporting events following its successful bid to stage the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010.
The seven yachts participating in the race will arrive in Kochi in December 2008 and will stay for 10 days, before starting leg three to Sentosa Island in Singapore. A race village covering 2.5 acres of land will be set up near the BTP berth at Willingdon Island.
The 2008-09 event will be the 10th running of this ocean marathon. Starting from Alicante in Spain on 4 October 2008, it will for the first time, take in ports in Asia. Spanning some 39,000 nautical miles, stopping at around 11 ports and taking nine months to complete, the Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s premier yacht race for professional racing crews.