Monday, April 17, 2006

Around the World to Baltimore

Arriving in Baltimore for different things one suddenly finds that arriving here starting today are also the six ocean racing boats of the Volvo Ocean Race.

I'm here for a meeting of the board of Baltimore-based financial firm Legg Mason.

Its headquarters building towers over the attractive inner harbour area.

Racing up the Chesapeake Bay towards Baltimore harbour are the boats completing their two-week run from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

They have been going from Vigo in Spain via Cape Town in South Africa, Melbourne in Austrialia and Rio de Janeiro for six months by now.

At the time of writing this, winds have died away out in the bay, and the lead boat ABN Amro One is struggling a couple of miles from the finishing line, making the occasional knot and most probably hoping that the wind problem has affected those coming after it as well.

On present trends, ABN Amro One probaby has another hour or so before it appears in the inner harbour, meeting the champagne and the crowds.

It's a big PR event for Swedish business as well. Both Volvo - well, nowadays of course a part of Ford Motor Corporation - and Ericsson have put up exhibition buildings in the harbour.

Volvo sponsors the entire event - it will end up Gothenburg in mid-June - while Ericssons sponsors a boat. That the boat seems to be trailing all others at the moment is a regrettable fact, but doesn't really impact on the value of the sponsoring.

And it's a big event for the entire area of Baltimore and Annapolis.

Expectations are that there will come more than half a million visitors during the three weeks the boats will spend here, spending perhaps 50 million dollars to benefit the local economy.

But right now, we are awaiting the winner on this leg...