On 4th October 2014, the mighty Volvo Ocean Race set sail once again. This year, seven international teams are competing to be the fastest to finish the 38, 739 nautical mile voyage across the globe.
Setting out from Alicante, Spain, seven world-class crews will soon embark on the grueling nine month race. Since the very first Volvo Ocean Race left port in 1973, the competition has earned itself a reputation as a demanding test of endurance and skill – this year’s race will be no exception
Calling at 11 ports, with 10 stopovers and one pit-stop, participants will have to work together at close quarters in often challenging conditions. The race will pass through a variety of exciting locations – starting in Alicante (Spain) before sailing to Cape Town (South Africa), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sanya (China), Auckland (New Zealand), Itajaí (Brazil), Newport (USA), Lisbon (Portugal) and Lorient (France), finishing in Gothenburg, Sweden, after a short pit-stop in The Hague (The Netherlands). Like previous races, teams will compete to be the fastest over each leg, as well as taking part in in-port races in each port for a separate trophy.
“This year’s race will pass through some spectacular locations, and the crews will encounter extreme environments,” explains Elin Svanström sponsorship and event project manager at Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE). “The competition is the ultimate endurance test, celebrating human endeavor and the sailors’ ability to work with the boats to overcome adverse conditions.”
This year’s Volvo Ocean Race sees an exciting newdevelopment to the traditional structure. A brand new boat – The Volvo Ocean 65 – has been created especially for this race, and each team has been given a boat made to the exact same specifications. For the first time, everybody will be competing in exactly the same type of boat which should one of the closest races in the event’s long history.
“This 65 foot yacht has been designed by racing experts and veterans of the Volvo Ocean Race,” Svanström explains. “In previous races, the teams were able to design boats within certain specifications. By standardizing the type of boat used, we are putting all teams on a level playing field and really testing their seamanship. Of course, each team can decorate their boat with their sponsor's logos and colors!”
The new Volvo Ocean 65 yacht allows all-female sailing teams to compete with the same opportunities as the all-male teams. Although there was never a rule stopping an all-female crew participating, the Volvo Open 70 was simply too physically demanding, preventing an all-female team from entering. Team SCA will be the first woman’s crew to join the race in 10 years. The team is led by UK-born Sam Davies and is registered in Sweden, but boasts an international array of talented sailors trained by Volvo Ocean Race experts. The all-female team can compete with 11 sailors, and the teams containing only men take part with a crew of eight.
Team SCA is up against six world class crews: Chinese competitors Dongfeng Race Team (with French skipper Charles Caudrelier), Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing led by UK skipper Ian Walker, Team Brunel headed up by Dutch skipper Bouwe Bekking who is competing in a record-equaling seventh race, Iker Martínez’s MAPFRE, Team Vestas Wind led by the Australian Chris Nicholson and US/Turkish Team Alvimedica with skipper Charlie Enright.
It’s not just the sailors that will get involved in the thrill of the race, as there will be a strong focus on sharing the experience with fans and spectators, as well as Volvo customers and dealers. To make sure everybody is connected, each crew will be joined by an onboard reporter.
Communicating via several multimedia channels, they will be responsible for ensuring every moment of the excitement is captured and relayed back to dry land – bringing the race closer than ever to its audience. They are not allowed to sail the boat.
This year, everybody who visits a Volvo Ocean Race port will have the chance to enjoy Volvo Construction Equipment first-hand. Visitors will be able to operate a special, show-modified compact excavator. This machine is designed so that ocean racing fans can experience what it is like to operate construction equipment. The unique excavator will be located on Volvo CE’s ‘Activation Deck’, next to the Volvo Pavilion at each stopover. Visitors over the age of 15 are invited to take part in a challenge to pick up and move tires with the excavator.
For those who are not able to experience the race in person, Volvo CE has developed a series of online challenges to recreate the excitement of the event. Race fans can access 10 interactive video challenges that show impressive feats performed by Volvo CE machines and their operators. The videos can be found on Volvo CE’s Volvo Ocean Race website - http://volvooceanrace.volvoce.com/.
“At Volvo CE we are dedicated to demonstrating that quality machinery and human endeavor can come together with amazing results. The Volvo Ocean Race is a great chance to showcase our machines and demonstrate their capabilities,” says Svanström. “Our business activities during the race, such as customer seminars, are a great way for us to meet our customers and talk about their needs, and these on-site and online challenges are a great way to engage a wider audience. We are proud to be part of such a challenging event, and with the new additions to the boats and their crews, we are sure the 2014/15 race will be the best yet.”