Volvo Ocean Race Veterans On New Course
Our panel of highly eminent Volvo Ocean Race veterans - Rob Greenhalgh, Will Oxley, Mike Sanderson, Tom Addis and Grant Dalton - share their insider views on the revamped racecourse for the 2017-18 edition of the world’s toughest yacht race.
SRM: With three times more time in the Southern Ocean than the last two editions the new course is being heralded as returning the race to its roots. The fans have welcomed that move but what are your overall feelings about the new course?
Rob Greenhalgh: I think it looks fine - I wasn’t a big fan of the Middle East and Singapore Straits so I’m glad to see that’s gone. The new course is much better, but being honest, I would prefer to pass east of Australia to speed it all up; I don’t like the double back from Hong Kong all that much either.
Mike Sanderson: Overall, the new course looks interesting and exciting. I think the leg from Cape Town all the way around Australia and back up to Asia will be pretty daunting. If it stays as one leg then my guess is it will take longer than the big multihulls do to go around the world non-stop. Put another way, it’s almost half the Vendee Globe course, so for sure it’s new territory for the Volvo and the guys will have to tackle that leg with a different mindset.
Tom Addis: I think the new course is a huge improvement. In previous races the legs up to and out of the Middle East were painful both to sail and watch!
It’s really great to be avoiding the Singapore Straits, as sailing a racing yacht in amongst the commercial shipping through there is one of the most dangerous and irresponsible things that I've done in my life.
The new course also cuts out the South China Sea with its charting and political hazards and I think getting back into the Southern Ocean will be great for the event.
There has been a trend in many sporting events (not only sailing) over the last few years where the commercial interests have dominated those of the underlying sport. This can only go on for so long before people start turning off the sport due to the loss in the fundamentals.
I'm really glad to see the VOR take control of itself here, as it was in real danger of dying up there in the tropics.
Grant Dalton: The race continues to evolve to meet the realities of the market. As a sport in general, sailing is losing its roots. Stadium sailing is what people think is necessary. It has its place, but sailing is actually not that sport; the theory is flawed so a return more to the toughness of the sport is to be applauded.
Will Oxley: I think that from a sailing perspective the new course is a significant improvement over the last two editions where we ventured into the Indian Ocean. Also, the amount of commercial traffic and fishing in the Malacca Straits meant this was not a great place to sail.
SRM: The first leg is a very short one from Alicante to Lisbon. Will the teams appreciate the opportunity to get bedded in with a sprint like that or will it be viewed as a bit of an un-necessary distraction before taking on the Atlantic?
Rob Greenhalgh: It will be good for well-prepared teams, but I wonder if Leg 1 and Leg 2 to Cape Town could be combined and the points allocated based on the total elapsed time.
Mike Sanderson: I like it. I think it will be fun to be able to get into the swing of it and great to get the Mediterranean and the Straits of Gibraltar out of the first long leg, in my opinion.
Tom Addis: It will be a strange one for sure. It seems to be a bit disjointed to have a big race start only to stop again a few days later. I don't think it will make a huge difference to the crews, but... READ THE FULL ARTICLE