Concerns over piracy forces Volvo organisers to redraw course plans
Alicante, Spain – 18th August
escalating security problem caused by piracy in the Indian Ocean has forced
Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 organisers to redraw the second and third leg routes
in the 39,000 nautical mile round-the-world challenge.
The competing boats were due to have
sailed through an East African corridor in the Indian Ocean on the second leg
from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi and again in the third leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya
After taking advice from marine safety
experts Dryad Maritime Intelligence and the sport’s governing body, the
International Sailing Federation (ISAF), race organisers decided that sticking
to the original route would put crews at too much risk.
Instead the boats will race from Cape Town
to an undisclosed ‘safe haven’ port, be transported closer to Abu Dhabi, and then complete the leg
from there. The process will be reversed for the third leg before the race
continues on to Sanya, the fourth of 10 host ports in a race that will not
finish until July 2012.
“This has been an
incredibly difficult decision,” said Volvo
Ocean Race Chief Executive Knut Frostad. “We have consulted leading naval and commercial intelligence experts and
their advice could not have been clearer: ‘Do not risk it.’
“The solution we have found
means our boats will still be racing into Abu Dhabi and competing in the
in-port race there.
“Abu Dhabi is a very
important part of our plans, a real highlight being the race’s first-ever
stopover in the Middle East, and we will now have a really exciting sprint
finish to the emirate over the New Year period as well.”
Piracy is a well-organised and highly
lucrative business and it has expanded into a vast area off the coast of
Somalia. In 2010 a record 1,181 seafarers were kidnapped by pirates, according
to figures supplied by Dryad.
The most recent vessels released endured
hijackings lasting an average of 213 days and it has been estimated that last
year $150 million was paid to pirate gangs in ransoms for ships, cargoes and
Frostad emphasised that the race would
still be a round-the-world challenge. “We continue to be the only
continuous sporting event to visit five continents over nine months of
gruelling sailing,” he said.
Race director Jack Lloyd, also a senior
ISAF official and respected Olympic and America’s Cup umpire, described the
change as a “bump in the road which has to be negotiated, albeit a very
expensive bump” rather than a race-changing suspension in the action.
Abu Dhabi will host the race from December
30 to January 14 with a purpose-built race village at its Corniche waterfront
site and a headline New Year’s Eve concert amongst various festivities set to
provide a spectacular welcome to more than 100,000 visitors.
“We have a long-standing
relationship with Volvo Ocean Race and have been comprehensively involved in
its risk management process since the last race in 2008-09,” said Karen Jacques, COO of Dryad Maritime.
“We will be working
closely with the Volvo Ocean Race team to ensure that only essential disruption
ISAF´s position is that sailing in waters badly affected by piracy is too
“The measures taken by
the Volvo Ocean Race are very much in line with the advice that the
International Sailing Federation has been giving for some time.” said ISAF Secretary General Jerome Pels.
“The ISAF strongly urges
all yacht skippers intent on sailing anywhere in the area to seek an
alternative, which the Volvo Ocean Race is now providing.”
About Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race is the world´s premier offshore sailing challenge. The 2011-12 edition will cover
over 39,000 nautical miles, starting in Alicante, Spain on October 29 and
finishing in Galway, Ireland in July. The race dates back to 1973 when it began
life as the Whitbread Round the World Race.
For more information visit http://volvooceanrace.com