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Dead in the water

Typically while in the throes of one of the growing number of organized sail races around the world, it’s a mechanical failure that puts an end to a crew’s ambitions to be first. Racing yachts have been dismasted, holed and left rudderless countless times while competing.

For a Russian team in the ongoing Volvo Ocean Race, it was a lack of cash.

Last week, Team Russia announced from Singapore that their boat would not be joining the rest of the fleet in the Volvo Ocean Race on the fourth leg to Qingdao, China, because of a funding shortfall, according to a recent press release.

The team, currently in seventh place in the eight-boat fleet, hasn’t ruled out returning to the race at a later date if sponsorship is secured to supply necessary funds. It was the only Volvo Open 70 that did not have a naming or title sponsorship, according to the release. They left Oct. 4 along with the rest of the international fleet from Alicante, Spain. With their future uncertain, the team plans to sail back to the Atlantic Ocean via Cape Town, with the possibility or rejoining the race at one of the Atlantic Ocean stopovers in the spring.

“From the outset, it was always a goal to bring commercial partners into the project,” says Oleg Zherebtsov, the team principal, in the release. “Until now, I have financed the team with my own money, in advance of anticipated sponsorship funding. By this stage in the Volvo campaign, we had intended to find sponsorship, but this process has been impacted by the global economic situation.”

Breaking away from the race also means that Team Russia will have to break its relationship with The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, which they were helping to promote. While the cessation from the race is regrettable, it will have no impact on the arrangements made for the finish line in St. Petersburg, Russia at the conclusion of the race in June.

This is the 10th running of the Volvo Ocean Race, which has for the first time included in its global racecourse Cochin, India; Singapore; and Qingdao, China. The boats race across 37,000 nautical miles and visit 11 ports within nine months. For information, visit

— Elizabeth Ellis