Please select your home edition
Edition
Festival of Sails 2017

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 CEO Knut Frostad talks (Part I)

by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team on 19 Aug 2014
2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - Abu Dhabi Rick Tomlinson / RORC http://www.rorc.org
The CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race is Knut Frostad, the 47 year old Norwegian sailor who sailed at two Olympic Games (1988 and 1992) and in four Volvo Ocean races.

His first VOR was in 1993-94 aboard Sweden’s Intrum Justitia which finished second. In the 1997-98 race he was the project founder and skipper for the Norwegian Innovation Kværner and in the 2001-02 VOR in the Norwegian Djuice. In the 2005-06 VOR he was watch captain on southern ocean legs for the Brazilian Brasil 1.

He became the Volvo Ocean Race Chief executive, in early 2008, ahead of the 2008-2009 race, taking over from Glen Bourke. In the tough economic environment, it’s obviously not been easily assembling the VOR fleet for the 2014-2015 race.

Sail-World interviewed Frostad late last week, after the dust had settled and we started by taking about that.

Frostad said 'The last two or three years have been extremely tough. The good news is that it is looking better now, even for the next race it is looking very good at the moment.

‘To get to where we are now and the risk we had to take and get all these pieces in place at the right time, it’s been a huge challenge.

‘We were of course disappointed with Emirates Team New Zealand not entering this year’s race, but that story is a little bit bigger in reality.

‘It’s a bit strange that a team announces that they are not doing the race. We had about 165 projects trying to do the next Volvo Ocean Race and thank God not all of them announce that they are not doing it.
‘We never announce them or any project before we know it is happening and the reality was that Team New Zealand was working on it but they were not able to get the funding together and then they worked on the joint venture with the Spanish and they didn’t manage to marry properly and that was their problem.

‘It is a pity for them but now most of their team is going to race for Vestas instead which the only big difference is the brand of Team New Zealand is not in the race but Nico was going to skipper that boat and a lot of the same core guys will be seen on the Vestas team.

‘The truth on that last boat (boat 7) without going too much in detail is ,that there was an international team and a sponsor that had actually booked the boat and started the whole process and that didn’t, for some reason, didn’t materialise.

‘We never went out with it because we need to be 100% confident before the final signatures were on and suddenly that stopped. There was nothing Russian that was just a rumour.

‘Of course I would have been very happy having Team New Zealand in the race but I wouldn’t have to liked not to have Vestas when that was an option because they are long term and they are strategic and it is a very good brand and it is a good story to have a wind and energy company in a sailing race and that means a lot.

‘Denmark is also a nation that we haven’t really well represented in the event and it is a sailing nation.

Vestas said themselves they couldn’t have found a better skipper and an Australian. Denmark having connections there. For them it is perfect.

‘We announced during the last race that we were going one design for this race.

‘Of course the boat is the visible change. The invisible changes are changes that really changed the budgets and the two biggest parts of that is everything that relates to a team, anything from logistics to how you service a boat, to spare parts, to insurance of the boats.

‘All these different pieces have changed completely with our new concept and the boat is an initiate for a lot of those things and a lot of those things are possible because of the identical boats but the biggest change to the race in general is the fact that the teams are sharing and they are sharing a lot of things.

‘They are not only sharing spare parts but they are sharing service personnel, shore crew, they are sharing medical doctors, they are sharing a lot of elements and every time we manage to get the teams to fully buy into that and share we make huge savings on their behalf.

‘ The best thing is that you save a lot of time and obviously with a one off boat it would not have been possible for a late entry like we have now have with Vestas.




'Now it is not only possible but it is almost coming to a table that is ready made. They get the boat in the water, the shore crew is waiting for them. Their doctor is hired months ago. A lot of the pieces are in place.

'The only thing they have to worry about is to get their clothes, get the food, get the team together and start sailing.

'Even insurance for the boat has all been sorted. They have to pay it but such a simple thing as sourcing insurance took months for the teams before and now there is a global package for the whole fleet. It has reduced costs from the time before and the deal is done by us on behalf of the teams. It just simplifies life.

‘One thing is the time it takes but it is also the people. They probably have one shore crew working for two or three months just to sign insurance in the past.

‘Going One Design has increased the reliability of the boat. There are several hundred kilos more carbon in this 65 foot boat compared to what we had in the 70 footer. There is a lot more structure in it.

‘It is a lot more higher margins on pretty much everywhere and the challenge we will have is that the sailors will now push the boats harder because the Volvo Open 70s they never pushed to the limit because if they did they broke them so the boat was always the deciding factor for how they sailed the boat and the boat was kind of running around with the sailors on them and now it is more the sailors are in control and they can really push this boat to the limit.



‘We are just watching them now (in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race) and we have all the data coming in from the boats because we are testing our systems around Britain and we are seeing how hard they push the boats. It is absolutely maximum the whole time. Which is good and great for the racing. On the Volvo 70 you would have to put the brake on in some of those conditions.

‘Last time some teams wouldn’t even show their cards so they wouldn’t even meet other teams and now because it is all standardise they have nothing to hide and we have access to all the systems and that helps us.

‘It also helps the guys who work in the boat yard shared services, looking after the boats and all the systems, because they can see how far the boats have been pushed, if there are problems, where and how and why.

‘Now if we have one problem on one boat we want to fix all the boats and all the boats have an interest now in one boat sharing their problem with another because they don’t want to be the one left out in the dark obviously.

‘In the last race it was completely different. There was no sharing of anything in the past, nothing.

‘Some teams, I think didn’t share their technical problems with their designers because the designer was working with more than one team and they didn’t want any other team to get the benefit so that is a new world and I think it is a healthy world.

‘I think it is a good world for sailing.'

In Part 2, Frostad reveals the very significant extent of budget savings, the Boatyard and more.

Lancer Inflatables - BJCollinson and CoSouthern Spars - 100

Related Articles

Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
Interview with 'Mr Harken UK' - we speak to Andy Ash-Vie
We spoke to 'Mr Harken UK' Andy Ash-Vie about his early sailing and how he got into the marine industry. We spoke to 'Mr Harken UK' Andy Ash-Vie about his early sailing, how he got into the marine industry, how Harken UK have diversified and what sailing he has planned for 2016.
Posted on 10 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Children of the Internet, Rio and Hong Kong
I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. The kind of conversations I have with her run along these lines.... In the olden days we did not have television until I left school and they had a thing called print magazines, that reported events between two weeks and four months after they happened. And her sceptical response... Hoh! Daddy, Hoh!
Posted on 14 Apr
Volvo Ocean Race appoints stadium racing pioneer as new CEO
Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Today his appointment has been confirmed.
Posted on 31 Mar
Laser creator Ian Bruce passes away (1933 - 2016)
Ian Bruce, driving force behind the Laser dinghy, sadly passed away at his daughter's home on Monday March 21 2016. Ian Bruce, driving force behind the Laser dinghy, sadly passed away at his daughter's home on Monday March 21 2016. His legacy to our sport, Canadian sailing and his beloved Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club will be praised and honoured for years to come.
Posted on 24 Mar
Pantaenius Insurance - Close is more than deep enough for some.
As the sun finishes its day low behind the Nelson Bay marina, many a soul gathers above the rocks at the weigh station As the sun finishes its day low behind the Nelson Bay marina, many a soul gathers above the rocks at the weigh station. They could be local, from nearby or way farther afield and it is definitely not a sense of the macabre that draws them in. Rather, it is fascination and wonder, because for the sweeping majority, this is as close as they will ever get to Mother Nature’s marvels of the deep.
Posted on 14 Mar
If Zika more damaging then Ebola, should Rio 2016 become London 2016?
185 days before the Rio Olympics, Brazil is reeling under the affects of the Zika virus. 185 days before the Rio Olympics, Brazil is reeling under the affects of the Zika virus. World-wide this virus could cause millions of babies to be born with a life damaging disability, perhaps this could a much bigger threat to global health than the Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in Africa.
Posted on 1 Feb
Rio 2016 Olympics - Do new health risks justify re-location?
Olympic athletes in Rio- A little-known virus is putting the Olympics-and possibly their futures-at risk. Ahead is the last vital months leading up to Rio 2016. Athletes have dedicated years of their lives to achieving excellence in the sport of sailing. Yet as these dedicated athletes fight hard to do well in a regatta that (country depending) helps determine Olympic berths, a little-known virus is putting the Olympics-and possibly their futures-at risk.
Posted on 30 Jan
World Sailing – the only way is up - Interview with new CEO Andy Hunt
ISAF decision making over the last decade has been to put it mildly ‘open to criticism'. ISAF decision making over the last decade has been to put it mildly ‘open to criticism'. The decision making processes within ISAF were widely criticized in the run up to the 2012 ISAF elections which installed Carlo Croce and his current executive who promised better things.
Posted on 20 Jan