Volvo Ocean Race: It’s relentless

Published on November 8th, 2017

Kyle Langford

At the age of 28, Australian Kyle Langford has competed on the World Match Racing Tour, Extreme Sailing Series, and won the 2010 RC44 World Championships in a crew skippered by Jimmy Spithill.

More recently, Langford had been riding shotgun with Spithill through two America’s Cup campaigns as part of Team Oracle USA.

Langford has been playing the game at a high level for a while, but at the end of each of those days he lies down into a comfortable bed… until now. Now he is aboard Team Brunel for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, an opportunity he calls a “dream come true.”

Langford is among a cadre of crew scattered among the seven teams that are long on competitive experience but short on ocean sailing. Said Langford before the start, “Three months ago my total offshore miles equaled zero and now 24 hours away from sailing around the world. Still have no idea what I’m in for!”

He is finding out now as the teams faced 20 to 30 knot winds on the first long leg – 7000nm – from Portugal to South Africa.

“It’s been pretty full on, I was pretty broken yesterday. It’s kind of surprising how physical it is, especially when you’re steering, you have to throw the wheel around a lot. It’s physically draining and exhausting, it’s tough.

“It’s so draining because it’s non-stop, it never ends. There’s no rest, and even when you’re down below the boat moves around so much you’ve got to brace yourself every moment that you’re awake and standing, so it’s hard work.

“Every time we do a maneuver we have to carry about 800kg of sails to side to side, and there are only a few of us on board so it’s pretty heavy, and you’re grinding, then working sails to get the boat moving again, so every time it’s about 30 minutes of high intensity work, then you go down below, and then sure enough 30 minutes later there’s another call for a maneuver.

“It’s a luxury if you do a maneuver on your own watch because you don’t miss out on your sleep. It’s heinous but it’s something you have to do, and you know in the back of your mind that you’re here to win a sailing race.”

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The second leg of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race started November 5 and is expected to take three weeks for the seven teams to complete the 7000 nm course from Lisbon, Portugal to Cape Town, South Africa. To see the crew lists… click here.

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Scuttlebutt, Team Brunel

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