Volvo Ocean Race Starts in Two Days

Author:
Publish date:
W1772_SAIL_WEB_BANNERS_700x150_V3
Dongfeng and Team Brunel have both looked strong in the run-up to this year’s Volvo Ocean Race. Here they do battle during last weekend’s in-port race in Alicante, Spain

Dongfeng and Team Brunel have both looked strong in the run-up to this year’s Volvo Ocean Race. Here they do battle during last weekend’s in-port race in Alicante, Spain

With just two days to go until seven teams set out on Leg 1 of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, the uncertainty and even confusion that has marked the past couple of weeks seems to have finally passed. After months of preparation and thousands of training miles at sea, you can bet every single one of the men and women taking part will be happy to finally get started on what they’ve all worked toward for so long.

First the uncertainty: In contrast to past races, in which Leg 1 took the fleet directly down from Europe to Cape Town, South Africa, the 2017-18 includes a “stutter step,” as it were, in the form of a short leg from Alicante, Spain, to Lisbon, Portugal.

Not only that, but because of the fickle weather conditions marking the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean and North Atlantic this time of year, the actual course was only set a couple of days ago—a 1,450-mile out and back, with the fleet sailing directly west through the strait and then rounding Porto Santo in the Madeira archipelago before sailing northeast toward the finish.

Leg 1 will send the fleet well out into the Atlantic Ocean, before it sets a course for the finish in Lisbon, Spain

Leg 1 will send the fleet well out into the Atlantic Ocean, before it sets a course for the finish in Lisbon, Spain

"One of our course options was to send the boats east, through the Bonifacio Straight, around Sardinia, back out through Gibraltar and straight to Lisbon,” said race director Phil Lawrence, giving some idea as to how he arrived as his final decision. “However, the medium-term weather forecast is for a strong mistral, potentially 50 or even 60 knots, followed by an extended period of high pressure and light winds throughout the Mediterranean, so that wasn't very attractive.”

“There's a varied weather outlook for the course we’ve chosen, quite complex for the Atlantic, which will present some challenges for the crews, and we expect them to arrive in Lisbon after approximately a week," Lawrence added. (For the complete schedule, click here.)  

Then there was the confusion: in the form of a leadership change aboard Dutch-flagged AkzoNobel. For a number of reasons (which seem to vary depending on who you ask: see the team’s official statement here. AkzoNobel parted ways with its skipper Simeon Tienpont less than two weeks before the start, throwing the entire campaign into confusion—a situation that was made all-too-apparent in a second-to-last-place finish in the first in-port race, which took place in Alicante last weekend.

Since then, however, the team has elevated New Zealander Brad Jackson to the top post—not a bad move given that the 49-year-old has already taken part in six VORs, won three of them and once did a stint coaching Sweden’s all-female Team SCA during the 2014-15 edition. If anyone can get the Dutch effort back on track it’s Jackson.

As of for the rest of the field, Spain’s MAPFRE is looking strong after winning both the prologue and last Saturday’s in-port event. However, China’s Dongfeng (which like MAPFRE is returning for a second-straight run at the VOR) has been nipping at MAPFRE’s heels every step of the way, and Dutch-flagged Brunel and the U.S./Danish effort Vestas 11 Hour Racing—with U.S. sailor Charlie Enright at the helm—have been right behind them. In other words, it remains anybody’s race. Let the adventure begin!

October 2017

W1772_SAIL_WEB_BANNERS_700x150

Related

arc18-3981

Stories from the Cruisers of the ARC

Each December, the docks at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia are abuzz as the fleet of the ARC—the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers—arrives to much fanfare. No matter what time of day or night, the staff of the World Cruising Club, organizers of the 33-year-old rally, are there to ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A sign from outside the box  Rev counters on modern engines are driven electronically from a terminal on the alternator. If all is well, as soon as the engine fires up the revs will read true. If, ...read more

emSelf-tacking-jib

Ask Sail: Are Self-trackers Worth It?

Q: I’m seeing more and more self-tacking jibs out on the water (and in the pages of SAIL) these days. I can’t help thinking these boats are all hopelessly underpowered, especially off the wind, when compared to boats with even slightly overlapping headsails. But I could be ...read more

01-LEAD-hose-leak-CREDIT-BoatUS

Know how: Is Your Bilge Pump up to the Job?

Without much reflection, I recently replaced my broken bilge pump with a slightly larger model. After all, I thought, surely an 800 gallon-per-hour (gph) pump will outperform the previous 500gph unit? Well, yes, but that’s no reason to feel much safer, as I soon discovered. The ...read more

190314-viddy

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: A Source of Hope

The tagline for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is "serious sailing, serious fun." However, for the inhabitants of St. Maarten, the event is more than just a festival of great music and some of the best sailing around. Local blogger Angie Soeffker explains the impact the race ...read more

SPOTX-1500x1500_front

Gear: SPOT-X Satellite

Hits the SPOT The SPOT-X two-way satellite messenger is an economical way of staying connected to the outside world via text or e-mail when you’re at sea. As well as the messaging service, it has a distress function that not only alerts authorities if you’re in trouble, but lets ...read more

_8105684

A Kid’s Take on the Northwest Passage

Going North—and West Crack! Crunch! I woke with a start to the sound of ice scraping the hull of our 60ft sailboat, Dogbark. In a drowsy daze, I hobbled out of the small cabin I was sharing with my little sister. As I emerged into the cockpit, I swiveled my head, searching for ...read more