Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sail Away

And they're off! Not one but three ocean races have started recently.

The biggest of all, the Volvo, had its first leg this weekend. This is the fully crewed, multiple stop round the world yacht race with a history going back to the seventies, when it was known as the Whitbread. Then it was near amateur, with proper galleys and space for bottles of wine. Now it is intense full-on professional, with hot bunking and freeze dried food. Now also there are inshore legs, to bring a bit of instant fix for the following media.

First blood went to Ericsson skippered by veteran Neal McDonald who so successfully turned round the Assa Abloy campaign in the last race. There is also a new class of boats - the 70 footers - amazing machines. We had the experience of being overtaken by one when doing the Fastnet - beautiful boat.

Then there's the Transat Jacques Vabre, crossing the Atlantic from France to Brasil. This is one of those events known to serious sailors but little known outside. It has a host of names - Ellen MacArther and Mike Golding are just two of the Brits. Already there has been drama with a number of multi-hulls having to retire following damage in a storm. These trimarans are fast and furious, but dangerous in bad weather where squalls can lead to flips and breakages.

Finally there's the Clipper race 05-06, where an all amateur crew pay around 25k pounds to spend a year getting cold, wet and tired. But they escape the daily grind of work and emails, which is forcing this post to finish just here!

(picture from here)

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