"To young men contemplating a voyage I would say go. The tales of rough usage are for the most part exaggerations, as also are the stories of sea danger."
Sailing Alone Around the World
Among this deeply talented fleet, it is now the exception rather than the rule for a crew member not to have previous around-the-world experience. Grant Dalton, the skipper of the Nautor Challenges Amer Sports One, will be sailing his seventh circumnavigating race. Roger Nilson, also of the Nautor Challenge, will be participating in his sixth race around the world. Kevin Shoebridge, the skipper for Team Tyco, will be making his fifth go round, as will Juan Vila, the co-navigator for illbruck Challenge. Even the Nautor Challenges all-woman entry aboard on Amer Sports Too will have more round-the-world vets on board than novices.
The caliber of sailing talent here is simply in keeping with the way this race has evolved, and that recently accelerated evolution will be most evident in the boats themselves. For the first time, all of the entries competing have been purposely built for this event and launched within 12 months of the starting date. Among the seven syndicates represented, five have shouldered the additional expense of building two boats in their no-holds-barred preparation for the race. Its safe to say that more funds have been thrown at the coming race than in any of its previous editions, all of which is great news for the ocean-racing enthusiasts who intend to follow the VOR.
The Course As one skipper holds, the VOR is more a series of races than a race around the world. After leaving Southampton, the competitors will head south to Cape Town, South Africa on the longest leg of the event (7,350 nm). Pundits expect the fleet to complete this leg in roughly 30 days. On November 11, theyll restart en route to Sydney, Australia for Leg Two (6,550 nm). After a brief layover there, the fleet will partake in the annual Sydney to Hobart Race beginning on December 26 (630 nm). After finishing, theyll immediately restart and head north to Auckland, New Zealand for the official finish of the third leg. Leg Four to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil gets underway January 27 (6,700 nm). After a 20-day layover there that will coincide with Carnival, the racers will depart on March 9 and sail 4,450 nm north to Miami, FL. Theyll linger in the sunshine state until April 14 when they depart on Leg Six to Baltimore (875 nm). After a brief stop in Baltimore, theyll head across the Atlantic on April 28, bound for La Rochelle, France (3,400 nm). The fleet will start Leg Eight to Goteborg, SwedenVolvos hometownon May 25 (1,075 nm), and the final leg to Kiel, Germany (250 nm across the Baltic Sea) is scheduled to begin on June 8.
The Players Among the eight teams that will be on the starting line in the English Channel are some of the most proven and talented offshore racers alive.
Laying the Odds
OK, well admit it right here that anytime you attempt to predict the outcome of an event where the field of competitors has never before been assembled, youre treading on dangerous territory. Throw in the vagaries of 32,000 miles of open ocean and 10 months time and youve got some really sketchy ground for oddsmakers. Apart from that, the results of a transatlantic brush-up with three VO 60s and the Fastnet Race indicate that the current crop of boats has taken on a decidedly one-design aspect in performance. So we advise you to view the following numbers with a skeptical eye, we certainly do:
Illbruck Challengetwo-plus years of prep time should give this team the most advanced sail designs and the most fluid crew dynamics5 to 1.
Nautor Challenge Amer Sports OneTwo words: Grant Dalton. Two more words: Roger Nilson. Theyve got a late start, but perhaps the most experience7 to 1.
Assa AbloyHeiner and Rudiger have the collective talent to lead the field, but if not, theyre sure to be in the hunt (barring breakdowns)8 to 1.
SEBKranz narrowly missed placing second in the last go round. After some initial snafus in this months Fastnet Race, you know hes hungry for redemption8 to 1.
Team News CorpFanstone and his crew have strong experience and good chemistry, and veteran Ross Field will be on board for some legs9 to 1.
Team TycoIf navigator Hayles can put the boat in the right spots, skipper Shoebridge and his crew have the know-how to keep it at pace9 to 1.
djuice dragonswith one of two non-Farr designs in the race, skipper Frostad and crew could be a dark horse, particularly on the shorter legs with Erle Williams involved10 to 1.
Nautor Challenge Amer Sports Toolack of prep time, relatively less experience, and a Frers design puts Lisa MacDonald and her team at the bottom of our list, but we hope they prove us wrong15 to 1.
The Volvo Ocean Race, Six Months and Counting by Dan Dickison
The 2000 Telstra Sydney to Hobard Race by Rob Mundle
Volvo Ocean Adventures Launches Educational Website by Mark Matthews
Buying Guide: Personal Flotation Devices