Co-Founder and Event Director Hugh Piggin takes the helm of our second, bi-monthly feature of 2022 by taking you to the heart of all the behind-the-scenes action at The Race Around.

Hugh is a Kiwi by birth, a sailor since the age of eight and is now based permanently in Newport, Rhode Island where amongst other things he manages high performance racing campaigns, is Race Director of the Atlantic and Pineapple Cup, and co-founder of Manuka Sports Event Management. This winter he spent his time racing the 85ft Botin designed ‘Deep Blue’ alongside working on The Race Around’s operational planning.

In his own words, here’s the story of the year so far, and what is to come:

"The Race Around, it’s a rollercoaster"

The Race Around was announced in 2019 as a concept for a classical round-the-world yacht race that is financially accessible, driven by performance, a credible alternative to perhaps the toughest test of ocean racing, the Vendée Globe and above all else accessible and safe. As I sit here now in May 2022 almost three years later it’s amazing to see how ths event has gone from a conversation to something very real indeed, it’s been an absolute rollercoaster of a journey so far and we can’t wait to continue riding it…!

Today we’re looking really good, we have every element we could wish for to

create the event we promised Class40 we’d deliver three years ago. My role within the organisation is to deliver upon that promise in collaboration with Sam. Operationally, we’ve announced our start and finish city, we have a world class Race Direction team, all host cities are now contracted albeit not announced, (editor's note: more on that soon) and we have a sustainability program that we believe is amongst the most innovative in the world. The operational budget is secured but like all races, we hope to attract more commercial partners to join us on this adventure. Now the foundations are laid for a successful event, our roles now change slightly. It’s time to build on what we’ve done and work alongside interested teams to ensure they have all the information possible to convince their current or prospective partners of the commercial opportunity and human stories this race will no doubt create in both France and more globally.

"Class40 sponsors represent an annual turnover of $100,000,000,000 and 200,000 employees."

As part of building out that opportunity and working alongside our interested teams, we’ve been busy creating the documentation required to accompany conversations. We’ve worked hard to get to the bottom of who Class40 is, who our audience is, not just standard demographics but the detail and data required to build meaningful campaigns from. We’ve gone further than before; I think this work has been amongst the most important we’ve done today. It’s something we’ll continue to put a large amount of effort into. We hope this work will not only benefit The Race Around but Class40 more generally too. Class40 sponsors represent an annual turnover of $100,000,000,000 and more than 200,000 employees globally. This will only grow, it’s exciting!

"Safety is key, it’s the foundation of everything"

Our most interesting conversations recently have surrounded the fundamental elements of safety. Safety is key, it’s the foundation of everything we do. It’s the start, the finish, and the end. As a race we will not be judged on how many start but how many finish!

Every conversation we have comes back to proactive race management and 24/7 surveillance of the fleet. Our team of 6 contains four dedicated members, working on a watch system 24/7. These four will be joined by two others, the first is someone that has a large amount of Class40 racing experience alongside experience of the Southern Ocean. The sixth member of the team is a world-renowned meteorologist. This expert insight will allow for racing and safety decisions to be made with the best information possible, be that how specific boats react in certain conditions or how the weather will develop on a daily basis. This allows for a significant increase in the safety of all vessels competing as Race Direction have within their power the ability to proactively communicate with competitors, and if necessary, route them to ensure safe passage through the worst conditions.

We’ll soon announce a technical partnership with a leading shipyard that’ll accompany The Race Around to support teams in their repairs and more general maintenance during our stopover locations. Our multi-stage course allows teams to race hard, and restart the race some weeks later with both vessel and skipper back at 100% as they were before the start.

📸: Qaptur

"The first two races have been unbelievable"

Sometimes being based in the USA is frustrating as we watch the Class40 racing from afar but what is clear is that the first two races of the year have been unbelievable. Corentin Douguet won the ‘Les 1000 milles des Sables’ his first race onboard his new Class40 Queguiner – Innoveo showing that although new to the class, these Figaro sailors will only add to the level of competition seen. The second championship event, the CIC Normandy Channel Race was won by Ian Lipinski and his co-skipper (and Race Around Entrant) Ambrogio Beccaria. They took first by 10 minutes against a fleet of 30 competitors in what was another great edition of one of the best races on the Class40 circuit. As the Route du Rhum approaches the level of competition is only going to increase. New boats continue to be launched and more are coming, we’re looking forward to welcoming new competitors to the Class!

"More of the same."

As the season continues, it’s more of the same for the team at The Race Around. We continue to work, move forward, and grow this event we’ve become so proud of. With the likes of Lalou Roucayrol and Ambrogio Beccaria committed, we know others are waiting for the right time to launch their campaigns. We look forward to sharing their stories with you when the time is right..!

In the coming weeks we’ll be revealing the full course, we’ll be visiting each location, building out our content plans to bring the race to life for sailings global fan base and working to secure the event for the long term. The creation of this event is in no doubt the hardest thing Sam and I have ever embarked on but we have the team to do it and we’re more motivated than ever to showcase Class40 and its sailors on the international stage.


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