Sailing Round The World In The Volvo Ocean Race Is About To Get Grueling

Sailing Round The World In The Volvo Ocean Race Is About To Get Grueling:


Mid-way through the eight-month long Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), seven contesting sailboats continue to scream around the planet, matching gumption and endurance against plucky oceans. This week, leg six of the voyage begins—from Hong Kong to Auckland, New Zealand.

Since around the world sail racing began in the 1960’s and 70’s, the nautical world has dramatically changed. Canvas and polyester sails have been replaced by molded composites; cold molded-plywood hulls and masts made from Kashmiri pine have been replaced by carbon fiber. Barometers to predict the weather have given way to satellite reports, while sextants have been substituted by GPS. Instead of medical advice from a soggy copy of the Ship’s Captain Medical Guide, it can now be live streamed from inland physicians. Breakfasts of canned food, oatmeal or flying-fish scooped off the deck have lost out to freeze dried meals; fresh water, once collected from a bucket lashed under the mast, is now generated by onboard desalination units. Weekly radio position reports are obsolete in an era of satellite updates. Snapshots are long gone as ‘onboard reporters’ control remote cameras and strap on Go-Pros. Gone also are days of packing wine bottles, tequila, guitars, knitting needles and backgammon boards and never being quite sure just where your competitors might be within the roaring seas.

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