The Volvo Ocean Race is an event in which every three years, six or seven teams race a group of yachts around the world. Sounds pretty relaxing, right?
The race, which was started in 1973, spans four oceans and five continents, and it’s the biggest offshore sailing race in the world. It lasts nearly nine months, taking in 11 ports, 38, 739 nautical miles, and every now and then, the conditions get rough.
“If you Do go overboard… it will be very difficult to get you back”
When we say rough we don’t mean a little choppy either, we mean dangerous to the extent that teams are literally sailing into cyclones.
This particular footage comes from leg five of the Ocean Race, which started in Alicante on October 4 and will finish in Gothenburg on June 27. The fleet left Auckland to begin their journey to Brazil, when the waters were hit by the 125mph Cyclone Pam.
It may sound like absolute madness to even think about sailing on in these conditions, but when you greet a racing sailor with the prospect of 50 knots of breeze pushing them along, it’s unlikely that the group even had to think twice.
“If you push hard and get away with it, you can take big miles,” says Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker. “But then again, if you push it too hard you can’t finish the leg, so the stakes are high.”
Choose the right line and pace and you’ll gain miles on your competitors. Get it wrong and you could leave your life on the line, never mind lose the race.
This amazing two-minute video shows exactly what the competitors were facing when they took on the cyclone, and there’s some great footage from the heavy waves as well: