In October, I just came out and ordained that the Route Du Rhum would be the best race of 2010. Well, technically, there’s another race that could compete for that title, but just barely—because it starts on December 31.
That race is the 2010/11 Barcelona World Race. It’s non-stop, double-handed, round-the-world in Open 60s (details are here). Like the Vendée Globe, only with someone on board to yell at, and help drive the boat at even more insane speeds on slightly more sleep.
Ocean racing needs new formats (desperately), so I was immediately hooked when the BWR was launched in 2007. That inaugural edition featured nine boats, 18 skippers, and plenty of awe-inspiring sailing. Sadly, the best U.S. sailor, Jonathan McKee—sailing with the inimitable Guillermo Altadill—was forced to retire thanks to rudder damage. It was won by Jean Pierre Dick and Wetass favorite (and ex-_PlayStation_er) Damian Foxhall in 92 days, 9 hours.
Apparently, the BWR has got something right. While the Volvo Ocean Race is still struggling to field a decent fleet, the BWR lineup is looking strong, with 15 teams set to fight inch-by-inch across 25,000 miles of ocean. Some notables include Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia, Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella on Gaes Centros Auditivos (rolls right off the tongue), Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss (back for Round 2), Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez, and Jean Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron on Virbac-Paprec 3.
I’m picking Dick and Peyron for the win, but it’s always dangerous to discount Desjoyeaux. Alex Thomson will sail flat out and probably set some sort of daily record, but hopefully he’ll also manage to keep his natural inclination toward boat-breaking speed under control enough to finish (he’s abandoned two Vendees and one Velux 5 Oceans, but did finish the last BWR in second place, so maybe that other skipper aboard, occasionally urging a more judicious pace, is just what he needs).
All the tracking and broadcast info for the race is here. If you are not up for this one, then perhaps you should check you still have a heartbeat, or at least watch this promo vid: