Alicante – The Volvo Ocean Race has made key changes to its Leadership Team, including the appointment of race management expert Phil Lawrence as new Race Director.
The re-shuffle, which follows Mark Turner’s appointment as CEO in March this year, is aimed at driving innovation and growth of sailing’s premier offshore race.
Lawrence is currently Race Director of the Extreme Sailing Series, and arrives with bags of sailing and commercial expertise, having previously managed events in all of the territories that the Volvo Ocean Race will visit during the 2017-18 edition.
A former Olympian, he will continue to fulfil his role with the Extreme Sailing Series alongside his new Volvo Ocean Race responsibilities until the end of the year.
Lawrence will work closely with current Race Director, Jack Lloyd, who will remain as a Race Adviser. Lloyd has held the post of Race Director for three editions, and has overseen several key evolutions in the event’s history, including, most recently, the transition to one-design boats.
“Jack had already planned to step down progressively during the upcoming race, and we decided to bring that timeline forward so that the new Race Director could own many of the decisions being taken right now,” said Turner.
“We will continue to lean on Jack’s depth of experience and impeccable safety record – he has made an extraordinary contribution to the race over the years.”
In other changes announced on Tuesday, Antonio Bolaños López, Chief Financial Officer since 2010, will become Managing Director. He had been acting CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race from February 2016 until Turner took up his role full time last week, replacing former CEO Knut Frostad.
In addition, five-time Volvo Ocean Race sailor Richard Mason, employed as Head of Host Port Operations in 2015, will become Operations Director, leading both the Host Port Operations and Logistics teams.
Jordi Neves, formerly Technology Director, is now Chief Digital Officer, with responsibility across Technology, Communications and Marketing departments.
“As the shift to a digital landscape continues to transform the media and sport industries, the Volvo Ocean Race is committed to leading innovation and pioneering new ways of telling our incredible story,” continued Turner.
Meanwhile, Miles Quitmann is to join the Volvo Ocean Race in a newly-created but key commercial role of Chief Business Development Officer, with a focus on developing new relationships with potential sponsors for both teams and the event in the future.
Miles co-founded Europe’s first electronic billing and payments platform, which was acquired by a FTSE 250 company, and more recently he was a founding investor and Chief Commercial Officer of mobile marketing and payments company, Proxama PLC.
He is also a passionate offshore sailor and has planned and led several extreme sailing projects, including a record breaking double-handed voyage from the United Kingdom to Antarctica; a double rounding of Cape Horn; and a 15,000 mile single-handed return from Chile to the United Kingdom.
Commercial Director, Karin Bäcklund, and Director of Boats and Maintenance, Nick Bice, continue in their roles as before, as key pillars in the new Leadership Team.
“The Commercial team under Karin has achieved some great results since the finish of the last race, with what looks like a very strong re-sign rate of both event and team partners,” said Turner.
“Her role will complemented by Miles’ arrival, and potentially others, in the commercial effort overall, as we not only look to seal deals for the 2017-18 race, but equally looking forward to the following edition in 2020-21.”
He added: “I wouldn’t have taken on this CEO role if there hadn’t already been a great team in place – and I want to take advantage of this new chapter to strengthen various areas, point the organisation in the right direction, and create a robust, diverse team to which I can add value rather than need to be part of day to day.”
The Race, which departs Alicante, Spain in autumn 2017, will see the fleet cross four oceans and five continents before the finale in The Hague, Netherlands in summer 2018.