Risks have dramatically reduced

A clear sign that the risks and threat of piracy in the Indian Ocean is receding comes from an official decision the the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is to complete the full leg this month between Cape Town and Abu Dhabi.

On the last race in 2011/12 the fleet raced to the Maldives, and was shipped from here to close to the finish. But then the piracy risk was considerably higher, with Somali pirate gangs using captured motherships to prey on cargo yachts and private vessels as far south as Mauritius.

Efforts by international and coalition forces, cutting off money laundering chains, armed guards on cargo ships and the capture and prosecution of pirates have all played their part in staunching it.

The move by a race as high profile as the Volvo Ocean Race is significant.

CEO Knut Frostad comments: “If anything changes regarding the risks on this leg – and the next – then we can change the plans at any time,” he said. “The safety of the sailors is, of course, paramount.

Exclusion zones will keep the fleet well clear of any possible problems. “The boats will now have more and better options to choose their strategy, with better angles than was anticipated before the start in Alicante,” he said.

Unlike in the last race, the position of yachts as they race this leg will not be kept secret.

“We will be following the boats as normal on the official Race Tracker, showing their correct position,” Frostad says.

Ian Millen, chief operating officer of Dryad Maritime, which offers expert advice to the race, said: “Since 2011 the level of piracy has changed markedly. In fact, in the route that the fleet is going, there have been no reports of piratical activity in 2014 and considerably longer than that.”

Millen said a combination of factors had reduced the levels of piracy around the world including better security support on the water, more armed guards onboard vessels and much improved compliance to security advice.