Knut Frostad- CEO, Volvo Ocean Race Share PDF Print E-mail
Profile of the week
Knut Frostad is Chief Executive of the Volvo Ocean Race.
A former professional offshore sailor and Olympian, Knut competed in no fewer than four editions of the event, dating back to 1993-94 when he was a helmsman on second-placed Interim Justitia in what was then the Whitbread Round the World Race.
Four years later, he returned as skipper and project director on Innovation Kvaerner and he was back in 2001-02 in charge of Djuice Dragons. In 2005-06 he returned as watch leader and technical advisor with Brasil 1.
Twice winner of the prestigious Sydney-Hobart Race, in 1994 and 2000, Frostad took part in the Olympic trials for Seoul in 1988 as a board sailor and went on to represent Norway in the Flying Dutchman class in the Barcelona Games in 1992.
Born in Harstad, Norway, Frostad successfully translated his sailing achievement to the boardroom. He has a business background in management and has held a number of director and advisor positions within international companies.
A former journalist, he has written many yachting articles and a book ‘Responsible for the Irresponsible’ about his experiences in the Whitbread Round the World Race. He is also a recognised motivational speaker.
By Edward Rangsi
How valuable has your experience as a sailing competitor, particularly in the Volvo Ocean Race, proven in event and athlete management?
It's clearly a benefit to be able to understand the event from sailor's point of view, as well as from that of an event organiser. You need that ability. The sport is always about passion and you can never study passion at university. You have to have it in your blood. It helps with the connection with the teams and the sailors. They know that I know. It's very important.
What does sailing need to do as a sport to appeal to more people and become more mainstream?
I'm not so sure that sailing itself needs to be a mainstream sport. Our objective is to have a mainstream audience and you can do that even if not everyone is actually sailing. Sailing is many different sports and we don't have the same challenges as the Olympics or America's Cup sailing, for example. We have the story of this amazing challenge to get around the world at very high speeds. We're making big steps in communicating that story, but there's an ocean of opportunities out there. We need to get closer to the audience and get people closer to the guys on board. Every day there are stories that people can associate with. The content is amazing. A lot of sports today are sold on the quality of the images. The quality will only get better.
Is there a particular target group that you are looking to attract?
Although we are in many senses an adventure, we are presenting the race first and foremost as a sport and clearly at the moment we have a bigger male audience than female. The toughness of the race is more focused on male than female values, I would say right now, though we do have a bigger female audience on Facebook and that's somewhere we're looking to grow.
How do you educate a new audience, without alienating the more traditional audience?
It's not about alienating people, in my experience. This is a generation that's changing. You have to speak a different language to people who don't remember this event from the 1970s and 80s. They get attracted to the event for other reasons. They will never get attracted to the past. The content drives a lot of people. It is true, though, that communication is very different in China than in the UK. A lot of it is about educating people and we can do better at that.
With recruitment in mind, how do you get more kids sailing and prevent losing a generation of sailors after the teenage years?
We are doing something on a small scale with our Academy in each of the 10 host ports, building a connection between the kids just starting to sail today and the stars of the Volvo Ocean Race, to show that there is a path you can follow. We also have the sailing school and we get around 10,000 children through that school. If 1 percent start sailing, that's very good news. The biggest challenge for sailing is to connect the stars with those teenagers who are considering what to do. Other sport do this far better. Take football, for example, where the stars of the sport are very visible.
The entry fees for the Volvo Ocean Race are relatively high, are you looking to reduce the fees again? If so, how?
The entry fees themselves are very low, as they cover equipment and services we can provide more cost-efficiently, but if you are referring to the cost of mounting a campaign that is still high. It can cost 20-30 million euros to mount a campaign and we hope to reduce that by 40 percent by making changes to the boat and route, among other things. We'll be making announcements along those lines in due course and I'm sure we can do what we've set out to do.
In terms of participants, are you still hoping to reach double digits? How far away is that dream?
Our ambition is to have between eight and 10 boats. That'll make us very satisfied. We think 8-10 is a very good number. We had that in the past and if you have too many it becomes difficult for the public to connect and engage with the teams. The quality is more the key once you get to eight teams -- more important than numbers.
Are there any extra revenue opportunities for teams, such as prize money?
We have discussed prize money before but right now it's not very high on our list. We think we can spend that money better for the event. Volvo Ocean Race is one of few events left where the prestige of winning is what drives people to do it.
The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the sailing events where private funding doesn’t hold as greater significance as in other events, so what does the team business model look like?
We have a number of different business models in the race, but I hope in the future that our teams become self-sustaining models, who keep coming back to the race time and time again. That's the situation in the case of Pedro Campos running the Spanish project. They change a few sponsors in cycles, but keep the business running.
Who do you consider your competition for sponsors to be?
We have been engaging consumer brands in the last two races and when you negotiate with them they obviously have a much wider platform to choose form. On the business to business side, we often work with companies that don't have too many other sports that can cover the same footprint over same timeframe. We sometimes compete with other sailing events, but not often.
Are there any rightsholders that you can learn from and have been impressed with?
I'm impressed by DORNA and what they have done with MotoGP, and F1 in the way they've managed to keep the wheels turning, continuing to innovate. I'd also say the Tour de France, which has never been so popular globally despite the retirement of someone like Lance Armstrong.
The current edition of the race is generating strong global appeal with many cities interested in hosting a stopover event. What is it about the Volvo Ocean Race that appeals to cities around the world?
There are a couple of things to the appeal. Firstly, it's about being part of an iconic route. That makes our race unique. When people talk about the Volvo Ocean Race they talk about the whole route -- it's not just individual races. Then there's the size of the event, which is becoming quite big now -- a global event that is followed by an awful lot of people. You can spread the message much further in around the world with our event than with many others. The sailing itself also has a nice position when it comes to sustainability and the environment. The profile of the event is healthy and we engage a lot of people with our stories. Our sailors are risking life and limb to get round the world in the fastest time people and people like to be associated with that.
Having started windsurfing at the age of twelve and having progressed to compete in the Olympic Games, what are your thoughts on ISAF’s decision to drop windsurfing as an Olympic discipline for Rio 2016 and what’s the next for the sport?
The windsurfing decision is a disaster. When Flying Dutchman was removed from the Olympics I supported it because it was the right decision and it was taken in a professional way. What I'm really upset about with this decision is that they've removed the second biggest Olympic class, just behind laser both in number of countries and participants. With this, they don't even know what they're getting. It was a poor decision and a poor process.
The Olympics are important in attracting attention to any sport and educating a potential new audience, but considering the various layers of sailing, do you feel enough has been done defining the sport?
Sailing's challenge is a bit like car racing -- too many events, too many classes, etc. The Olympics is the same. We would benefit from the idea that less is more at the Olympics.  We need fewer classes and more focus, with good work on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Knut Frostad Cropped

Knut Frostad is the Chief Executive of the Volvo Ocean Race. 

A former professional offshore sailor and Olympian, Knut competed in no fewer than four editions of the event, dating back to 1993-94 when he was a helmsman on second-placed Interim Justitia in what was then the Whitbread Round the World Race.

Four years later, he returned as skipper and project director on Innovation Kvaerner and he was back in 2001-02 in charge of Djuice Dragons. In 2005-06 he returned as watch leader and technical advisor with Brasil 1.

Twice winner of the prestigious Sydney-Hobart Race, in 1994 and 2000, Frostad took part in the Olympic trials for Seoul in 1988 as a board sailor and went on to represent Norway in the Flying Dutchman class in the Barcelona Games in 1992.

Born in Harstad, Norway, Frostad successfully translated his sailing achievement to the boardroom. He has a business background in management and has held a number of director and advisor positions within international companies.

A former journalist, he has written many yachting articles and a book ‘Responsible for the Irresponsible’ about his experiences in the Whitbread Round the World Race. He is also a recognised motivational speaker.

By Edward Rangsi


How valuable has your experience as a sailing competitor, particularly in the Volvo Ocean Race, proven in event and athlete management?

It's clearly a benefit to be able to understand the event from sailor's point of view, as well as from that of an event organiser. You need that ability. The sport is always about passion and you can never study passion at university. You have to have it in your blood. It helps with the connection with the teams and the sailors. They know that I know. It's very important.

What does sailing need to do as a sport to appeal to more people and become more mainstream?

I'm not so sure that sailing itself needs to be a mainstream sport. Our objective is to have a mainstream audience and you can do that even if not everyone is actually sailing. Sailing is many different sports and we don't have the same challenges as the Olympics or America's Cup sailing, for example. We have the story of this amazing challenge to get around the world at very high speeds. We're making big steps in communicating that story, but there's an ocean of opportunities out there. We need to get closer to the audience and get people closer to the guys on board. Every day there are stories that people can associate with. The content is amazing. A lot of sports today are sold on the quality of the images. The quality will only get better. 

Is there a particular target group that you are looking to attract?

Although we are in many senses an adventure, we are presenting the race first and foremost as a sport and clearly at the moment we have a bigger male audience than female. The toughness of the race is more focused on male than female values, I would say right now, though we do have a bigger female audience on Facebook and that's somewhere we're looking to grow.

How do you educate a new audience, without alienating the more traditional audience?

It's not about alienating people, in my experience. This is a generation that's changing. You have to speak a different language to people who don't remember this event from the 1970s and 80s. They get attracted to the event for other reasons. They will never get attracted to the past. The content drives a lot of people. It is true, though, that communication is very different in China than in the UK. A lot of it is about educating people and we can do better at that.

With recruitment in mind, how do you get more kids sailing and prevent losing a generation of sailors after the teenage years?

We are doing something on a small scale with our Academy in each of the 10 host ports, building a connection between the kids just starting to sail today and the stars of the Volvo Ocean Race, to show that there is a path you can follow. We also have the sailing school and we get around 10,000 children through that school. If 1 percent start sailing, that's very good news. The biggest challenge for sailing is to connect the stars with those teenagers who are considering what to do. Other sport do this far better. Take football, for example, where the stars of the sport are very visible.

  • «
  •  Start 
  •  Prev 
  •  1 
  •  2 
  •  Next 
  •  End 
  • »
(Page 1 of 2)
 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Featured Profiles

superload.me filesmonster