Volvo Ocean Race Is Off and Running

An estimated 50,000 race fans packed both the docks and harbor as the seven-boat 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race fleet set out on the event’s first offshore leg from Alicante, Spain, to Cape Town, South Africa.
Author:
Publish date:
 The 2014-15 VOR fleet shortly after the start of this year’s first offshore leg. Photo courtesy of VOR Ainhoa Sanchez

The 2014-15 VOR fleet shortly after the start of this year’s first offshore leg. Photo courtesy of VOR Ainhoa Sanchez

An estimated 50,000 race fans packed both the docks and harbor as the seven-boat 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race fleet set out on the event’s first offshore leg from Alicante, Spain, to Cape Town, South Africa.

Leading the charge as the 66 sailors comprising this year’s teams headed out onto the open Mediterranean was Dutch-flagged Brunel, with six-time race veteran Bouwe Bekking at the helm. The fleet has since remained tightly bunched as it makes its way south and west along the southern coast of Spain toward Gibraltar and the Atlantic.

In all, it will take about three weeks for the fleet to cover the 6,487-mile leg, traditionally one of the 39,000-mile race’s toughest, with the doldrums and a first taste of the Southern Ocean among it’s many challenges. (For more on the Leg 1 click here.)

 Abu Dhabi skipper, Ian Walker, at the helm shortly after the starting gun. Photo courtesy of VOR Matt Knighton

Abu Dhabi skipper, Ian Walker, at the helm shortly after the starting gun. Photo courtesy of VOR Matt Knighton

Already the fleet is off to a better start than in the 2011-12 race, when a severe storm dismasted Abu Dhabi and forced China’s Sanya to return to shore with hull damage less than 24 hours after the start. Ultimately, these would prove to be just the first of a string of breakdowns the 2011-12 race that were a major factor in the decision to switch the Volvo Ocean 65 one-design.

“By the first morning last race, we knew very quickly whose boat was fast and whose wasn’t, and which navigators were going to be in for an extra long race,” Team Alvimedica media crew Amory Ross said of the first couple of days of the race this time around. “But we’ve just spent the first night within sight of all six competitors, at all times, and I’m sure Alvimedica is excited at the fleet’s parity.”

 The crowd looks on as the fleet prepares to depart Alicante. Photo courtesy of VOR Mark Bow

The crowd looks on as the fleet prepares to depart Alicante. Photo courtesy of VOR Mark Bow

”Come what may, the crew on Team Alvimedica is just relieved that all the waiting is over, and the action is beginning,” said watch captain and team leader Mark Towill, shortly before the start. “We've put a lot into it, 15,000 miles of training, a ton of planning, just a lot that's gone into it. Not only from the sailing team, but from our shore team. We're really excited, really looking forward to the race to Cape Town.”

On Day 3 Team SCA—the first all-female crew to compete in the VOR for more than a decade—led the way out into the Atlantic after a bold move by their navigator, Libby Greenhalgh, in which the boat took a northern route through Strait of Gibraltar, while the rest of fleet sailed south: closer to Morocco and the Spanish city of Ceuta, on Africa’s north coast.

“Everyone except us was going the southerly route through the Strait, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why,” Greenhalgh said afterward. “We wanted to stay with the fleet, but we also wanted to stick with our plan, and our plan has us sailing north.”

“The team collectively hooted and hollered for joy as Libby told us we were ahead. Our risk paid off big time, and we are now officially sailing in the Atlantic Ocean,” reported the boat’s media crew, Corinne Halloran.

Alas, 20 minutes after reaching the Atlantic, the wind dropped and Team SCA had no choice but to watch and wait as the other teams all started catching up again. So goes sailboat racing. It’s a long way to Cape Town.

For more on this year’s race, including background information on the boats, course and teams, click here

Related

albintoilet

Gear: Albin Pump Marine Toilet

Head Start Is there room for a new marine toilet? Albin Pump Marine thinks so, having just introduced its line of Swedish-built heads—ranging from compact to full-size models—to the American market. The toilets feature vitreous porcelain bowls and either wooden or thermoplastic ...read more

07n_45R2699

Multihull Sailor: Classic Cats

If you’re looking for a decent sub-40ft cruising cat, you have few choices when it comes to new-boat offerings. It is a well-known fact that the multihull market has taken off in a way very few could have predicted. Despite Hurricane Irma’s recent destruction of a large part of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Thanks a bunch  This scene is very calm and seamanlike. No frantic rope throwing or shouting. As he passes the line to the gent on the dock, the crew on the boat says, quietly and clearly, “Would you ...read more

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more