Giving Rise to Legends

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner shares his thoughts on the race, the sport and the future of sailing at the World Sailing's #OurSustainableFuture forum.
Dongfeng Race Team
The 2017-2018 edition of the race will be a true test for the teams competing with a return to the Southern Ocean roots of the original Whitbread Race. Dongfeng Race Team

Creating legends, that’s what the Volvo Ocean Race is all about, according to Race CEO, Mark Turner. On Wednesday 9 November, he addressed World Sailing’s #OurSustainableFuture forum in Barcelona, Spain to talk about Volvo Ocean Race’s strategy for 2017-18 and beyond. Here is what he had to say on some important topics about the race, the sport and the future of sailing.

Creating legends
The Volvo Ocean Race has been creating heroes since 1973. There is very high awareness of the event in some countries, and that’s because they can identify and engage with heroes.

Powerful emotion
The Volvo Ocean Race is extremely competitive, there is enormous pressure on the sailors to win, and the Volvo Ocean Race is an emotional journey. Highs, lows, losses, failures, comebacks. It’s the ultimate test of teamwork. That cocktail of relentless competiton and pressure, and the human adventure, creates the emotion. We’re selling that emotion – and it has the power to transform businesses, both internally and externally.


Sailing is complex
It’s a thinking person’s sport, and we shouldn’t run away from that. Sailing is a beautifully complex sport.

Raw content
We have incredible content – not just in the race, but in the sport. We have a much more authentic story than many other sports. It’s our objective to share more than ever next race. How can we get more of the raw story out?

Global by nature
We have an extraordinary stadium. We have a global stadium, but we also have stadia globally. We don’t have to build arenas, that’s an incredible advantage. We can go to pretty much every country in the world.


Onboard Reporters
The OBR concept is unique in sport and allows us to get an incredible amount of content back from the boats. We’re evolving the role so that they’re rotating across the fleet, more like a war reporter – embedded in the trenches with one team one leg, and moving to another, the next.

Crew communicator
2017-18 will be the first time that the sailors have had the opportunity to post to social media. That sounds pretty normal now, but in the Volvo Ocean Race, this has been locked down in the past in order to avoid teams using external assistance. We’re developing technology to allow sailors to post without being able to access other information on the internet.

We have to match action with words. Just because we’re wind and waves doesn’t mean that we’re sustainable – we need to push for more sustainable forms and technology. We all have a responsibility, and our own issues to deal with.


Women in sailing
We have one of the few sports where men and women can play on the same pitch. A few weeks ago we changed the rules to incentivise mixed teams, as we knew that if we didn’t do anything, we’d go back to an all-male Volvo Ocean Race. We need to encourage the best female and the best male sailors to step onboard – and we’re already doing that.

Watch his full speech at the conference here.