2nd round world race may lure former CEO

Repeat: Former T. Rowe Price Chief Executive Officer George Collins says chances are 50-50 that he may enter his second round-the- world race, which again will include a stop here.

April 21, 1999|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

As a Volvo official formally announced the return of the Volvo Ocean Race Round the World to Baltimore and Annapolis yesterday, he urged local organizers to find a local entry to fuel the excitement.

"If you have a boat from the port, it makes it so much more interesting for the people in the port," said Helge Alten, chief executive of the Volvo Ocean Race. "Please help me in making that happen."

There's nothing area officials would like better, and a logical place to turn is to George Collins, the former T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. chief executive who last year financed the $7 million program that made Chessie Racing a competitor.

"For me to put a campaign together for the next Volvo would take considerable help from other financial sources," Collins said in an interview yesterday. "I haven't ruled it out. I'm definitely talking with a syndicate."

Collins estimated that an entry for the 2001-2002 race would cost $8.5 million to $10 million, because of inflation and the additional cost of new carbon fiber rigs. He has been talking with a Hong Kong syndicate, he said, and puts the odds at 50-50 that he'll be involved with an entry.

"I haven't gotten my fill of sailing on a Volvo 60," he said, referring to a boat design.

"I'll be four years older, and it's a young person's boat," said Collins, who is in his late 50s. "But if it's at all possible to do a leg or two, I'd love to."

Baltimore and Annapolis beat out Boston, New York and Newport, R.I., as the second U.S. stopover for the round-the-world race, which Volvo took over from Whitbread in June.

Volvo officials will announce today that Miami will be the first U.S. stopover, winning over Fort Lauderdale and Charleston, S.C.

Late last year, it appeared that the Annapolis stop might be dropped because racers in 1998 found the double stop costly and tiring. Each syndicate spent tens of thousands of dollars moving supplies and equipment from Baltimore to Annapolis.

But Baltimore and Annapolis had bid on the event together.

"There was a bit of resistance among the syndicates to the double stopover, which required moving containers and equipment from Baltimore to Annapolis," said Thomas Clifford, a spokesman for Volvo Group North America Inc. "But local organizers were able to persuade Volvo that this made good sense for all stakeholders."

About 50 people showed up from the business community for an afternoon meeting yesterday to talk about race history and to see a video of a day in the 1997-1998 race in the Southern Ocean aboard a yacht, narrated by racer Knut Frostad, skipper of Norway's entry, Innovation Kvaemer.

Through television and the Internet, people around the world got to know racers like Frostad and follow their lives during the course of the nine-month race.

"This is not just a boat show, it's a people show," said Gary Jobson of Annapolis, a world-class sailor and ESPN sailing commentator who has worked to bring the race back to Maryland.

At yesterday's morning news conference to announce the return of the yachts, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend -- a sailor herself -- said the excitement over the return goes far deeper than the estimated $26.5 million in economic impact the race will generate.

Pub Date: 4/21/99

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