The Volvo Ocean Race is not what it used to be


To all those who feel that the new Volvo course is a soft, warm waters option that gets the crews off the hook by skirting around the roughy toughy Southern Ocean, I’d suggest you give it a little while before you put this view to the sailors or the shore crew.

This weekend has seen some of the worst conditions of the race so far and resulted in widespread damage across the fleet. Among the casualties, Green Dragon has broken a forestay and her internal structure in the bow which has just failed for the second time. Puma has broken her boom, while Telefonica Black is broken so badly that they have had to retire from the leg with a split in the hull to deck join.

And still there is more bad weather to come.

Leg 4 is living up to the expectations of those who looked at the conditions before they set off. Indeed, so bad was the sea state, whipped up by 50 knot winds pushing against several knots of fair tide, that there were email conversations between the boats as to whether the leg should be called off.

Comments such as those from Ericsson 3’s navigator Aksel Magdahl stating that, ‘these boats are not made for handling these conditions,’ were common among the fleet.

But, after a destructive, nerve wracking and debilitating weekend, racing is back underway for most of the fleet and sees Telefonica Blue, currently lying second in the overall stakes, leading the field as the fleet closes in on Quingdao.

For the rest of us, the slight easing of conditions has meant that teams have been able to get video off the boats and this has to be seen, particularly the footage off Telefonica Blue and the moment when Puma’s race took a turn for the worse.

Soft option eh?!

MUST SEE VIDEOS – really good mini documentaries

Telefonica Blue in the rough stuff 

Ericsson 3’s navigator Aksel Magdahl – decribes conditions and the dliema surrounding the decisions whether to continue 

Puma breaks her boom 

Video as the forestay breaks on Green Dragon 

PODCAST – Hear just how concerned were the crews were before they set off

Volvo Skippers and navigators talk of their anxieties before the start of this brutal leg