It indicated itself. But both the timing and the extent of the withdrawal are surprising. Volvo hands the Volvo Ocean Race into new hands. This is the end of one of the longest-term commitments in ocean sports.
But the race around the world should continue - and start in 2021 with new partners and new boats. The organizers just announced that. Volvo wants to stay on board, but only as a sponsor. And the scope is still unclear.
At least in management there will be no break. The heads of the event, Richard Brisius and Johan Salén, who were only appointed last autumn, are responsible for the marketing and organization. Then there is Jan Litborn. All three have been involved in the race for many years - as participants and team bosses. Your company, Atlant Ocean Racing Spain, will take care of the event in the future.
The history of the regatta is "inspiring", said Richard Brisius in an initial statement. "We are committed here in the long term and determined to lead the race from success to success." Johan Salén assured that Atlant "already has the necessary resources" to allow the next edition to take place. A surprising admission that there are still no contracts with many stage ports and talks are only just beginning.
The regatta mode also seems unclear. It is being considered to allow two classes at the start: the existing Volvo 65 and another. As YACHT online reported weeks ago, it will in all likelihood be the Imoc60 - boats that require less crew, are lighter and faster than the now obsolete Volvo 65.
Volvo's withdrawal from the active role of organizer had already been indicated by the separation from CEO Mark Turner. Its plans to modernize the format had been deemed too costly. He also missed the minimum target of eight participating teams in the current edition - a sign of the difficulties in marketing the race.
With the handover to Atlant, the Swedes reduce their costs and their risk. "After 20 years, it was time to hand over responsibility for this prestigious competition to a new and capable owner who has the experience and expertise to make the event even further," said Björn Annwall, Senior Vice President from Volvo Cars.
This is not a strengthening for the initially nameless Ocean Race. Despite the clearly demonstrated optimism of purpose, there is a lot of work waiting for Brisius, Salén and Litborn - the old and new trio at the top.