Volvo Ocean Race makes confirmed stopover in Indian city of Kochi

By David Schmidt

Rickshaws, chai, incense, street vendors, sacred cows, sardhu’s, ashrams, and Volvo Open 70’s? Indeed, the world’s highest-tech monohulls might seem oddly juxtaposed with India’s more iconic symbols, but it is confirmed: The Indian city of Kochi (in the state of Kerala) will host the second stopover (the second leg will run from Cape Town to Kochi) in the 2008/2009 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR). This is India’s first foray into hosting a world-class sailing event, and following its successful bid to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, the VOR stopover will be one of the biggest sporting events that India has hosted to date. VOR competitors are expected to reach Kochi in December of 2008; they will spend a total of ten days in port, fixing and preparing their boats for the next leg, and participating in in-shore races.

While this news undoubtedly brings great optimism to local sailing circles in the Kerala area – and all of India – this stopover will undoubtedly add an interesting level of complication to each syndicate, as far fewer chandleries, sailmakers, and riggers capable of servicing VO70’s exist in India than in more-developed areas of the world. Also, teams will need to be vigilant against contracting stomach bugs and other common travel ailments.

As a world traveler, this humble scribe considers India to be one of the world’s great cultural-and-geographical jewels, yet few countries have delivered the constant doses of food poisoning, giardia, another stomach bugs as India. While it’s one thing to be struck down by “the runs” while on holiday, it is another thing entirely to be suffering from a stomach bug and have to face the prospect of heading to sea on a raceboat in a round-the-world grudge match. While India easily boasts the world’s best street foods, teams are well advised to keep a good stock of Cipro on hand, and to approach the country with an open mind. India will easily live up to its reputation as a mysterious wonderland, but hopefully its other reputations won’t be problematic for the VOR and its sailors.

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Posted: January 18, 2008

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