Economic crisis ends Russian Volvo race challenge

Team Russia has withdrawn from the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race because of insufficient funding during the worldwide economic crisis, team backer Oleg Zherebtsov said.

“By this stage in the Volvo campaign we had intended to find sponsorship, but this process has been impacted by the global economic situation,” Zherebtsov, the founder of a Russian hypermarket chain, announced late Tuesday.

He said he had been financing the team with his own money in anticipation of sponsorship, which did not come about.

Team Russia said it had “suspended” racing after arriving in Singapore at the end of the race’s third stage.

Teams completed the third stage from Kochi, India on Tuesday. Spanish yacht Telefonica Blue sailed into the city-state first, snatching the lead from Sweden’s Ericsson 4 as the boats headed for the finish.

The US entry Puma Ocean Racing grabbed second place, just ahead of the all-Nordic crew of Ericsson 3. Race favourite Ericsson 4 came fourth.

Teams are to leave Singapore on January 18 for Qingdao, China on the fourth stage of the event.

The race, one of the most arduous in sport, will end in St Petersburg, Russia, in June after nine months negotiating 10 stages over 37,000 nautical miles at sea.