What is it really like to race offshore on a Volvo 70?

Over powered and under staffed, sailing a Volvo 70 offshore is a thrilling experience.

Since their introduction I’ve been fortunate enough to sail several Volvo 70s, but on each occasion the trip has been a daytime affair either during training, or in day races. Racing one offshore for 48 hours proved to be an entirely different and more challenging experience.

Camper’s skipper Chris Nicholson invited me to sail with the team in the Volvo Ocean Race’s test event, leg zero, a 350 mile offshore race from Alicante to Palma and back. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Although the race started in light winds, the forecast was for the breeze to pick up later in the first night of the race. And while 25-30 knots isn’t anywhere near the top end for these boats and their crews, my previous experiences were proof that you don’t need that much breeze to make for a wild ride.

In the December issue of the magazine we will report on what turned out to be an extraordinary and enlightening trip as well as taking a further look at how each of the teams may fare now that they have showed some of their cards.

In the meantime here’s a video report from on board Camper that I made during the race.