Stepping Into the Ring
Stepping Into the Ring
It’s game time for six Volvo Ocean Race teams, and ready or not, here we come. "Gaining Bearing" from our November/December 2011 issue.
Once we’re clear of the pirate zone, it’s on to China, through the Milaca Straits. Then it’s down through the Pacific to Auckland, New Zealand, and across the Southern Ocean up to Brazil. Our North American stop is in Miami this time around, and then it’s across the Atlantic again to Portugal. Finally, we have a sprint around the Azores and in to Lorient, France, before we set our sights on the finish in Galway, Ireland, where lots of beer and golf await our arrival. It’s sounds long, and it is, at about 39,000 miles as the crow flies, but as it was last time, it will be over in a flash.
At the time of this writing, as we wrap up our Canary Islands training session, we are as prepared as I ever thought we could be, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have plenty of stones yet to turn. As the boats show up in Alicante, Spain, for the November 5 start, I’m 100-percent positive we’ll see something in the final weeks before the start that make us scratch our heads and say, “why didn’t we think of that?”
There is so much going on with these boats. The underwater hydro package is incredibly complex with five foils to deal with. The hull shapes are crucial and all are different. By rule, we can’t change the hull shape, so once we start we have what we have—strengths and weaknesses included.
And lets not forget the rig and sail packages. Here is where we spent big time and money, and at this point I can say we have built seven of our eight allotted sails on board using North Sails’ 3Di. After sailing with 3Di sails over the past year and a half, I suspect that by the time this race is over we will be saying that 3Di is a larger breakthrough than was 3DL. But, I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch.
Sails are one of the few things we can change after the race begins, but we’re limited to only 17 sails total for the 39,000 miles. Longevity and design play a key role especially as we begin to really find out the boat’s strengths and weaknesses against the competition.
All in all, I feel good about where we are at, but as always, I’m full of butterflies when it comes to all the aspects of the race that are out of our hands. Hitting things, unforeseen breakages, personnel, and the health of the crew are all top of the list. Actually, the list of things to be nervous about is much longer than that, but at some point we have to just go racing and let the chips fall as they may.
Start Date Route Approx. Distance (nm)
›› Leg 1 Nov. 5, 2011 Alicante to Cape Town 6,500
›› Leg 2 Dec. 11, 2011 Cape Town to Abu Dhabi 5,430
›› Leg 3 Jan. 14, 2012 Abu Dhabi to Sanya, China 4,600
›› Leg 4 Feb. 19, 2012 Sanya to Auckland 5,220
›› Leg 5 March 18, 2012 Auckland to Itajai, Brazil 6,705
›› Leg 6 April 22, 2012 Itajai to Miami 4,800
›› Leg 7 May 20, 2012 Miami to Lisbon 3,590
›› Leg 8 June 10, 2012 Lisbon to Lorient, France 1,940
›› Leg 9 July 1, 2012 Lorient to Galway, Ireland 485