An overview of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/2009


The Event

With a new, longer course, a new fleet of boats and the broadest spread of designers seen for a decade, the 2008/09 race promises to be a very different affair from last time around.

Six teams in eight boats will battle it out over the 37,000 mile ocean racing classic, starting the first of 10 race legs in Alicante in October 2008.

The Route

How the teams adapt to questions posed by the new Asian swing in the route will go a long way in determining the eventual winner.

“The new route presents us with a lot of challenges, starting at the design process and just trying to accurately work out what conditions we will experience this time around,” says Telefónica navigator Simon Fisher. “I think that although there is one less Southern Ocean leg, the race will be no less challenging. There will be more upwind, more light airs, longer legs, shorter stops. All of this, together with the fact that no one has actually done this course before, makes it a really interesting project.”

Dropping the classic Southern Ocean legs has been seen as a dumbing down of the race by some of the event’s former supporters. Interestingly, you’ll be hard pressed to find sailors who feel the same.

The Boats

Changes to the VO70 have been made to address many of the problems that were common across several boats in previous fleets. But whatever the rule, designers and builders will always push the limit. Who has gone too far this time?