Ken Read: Keys to winning the Volvo Ocean Race

Published on October 9th, 2014

Ken Read helmed a second place finish in 2008-2009 on PUMA’s il mostro and a third place in 2011-2012 on PUMA’s Mar Mostro. Here Ken comments on three areas that could impact the outcome of the 2014-15 edition…

Sailing skill:
The one-design format will be interesting, but I still expect to see rather large speed differences between the teams in certain weather. High-speed boats like the VO65 give a huge bonus to fast drivers in windy planning conditions. That will continue. The best drivers and trimmers win this race. The windier it is, the more the best drivers will shine—right up until the boat breaks. So a little experience goes a long way toward boat preservation in some conditions as well.

Sail strategy:
I am curious to see when they decide to hoist the new sails [every team is allowed four replacement sails of pre-determined types – their choice]. And what they all chose to build. Maybe somebody went on a flyer for a sail that others didn’t choose to replace and it pays off in a big way. It is an interesting component to this new race.

Experience:
As in any sport, experience changes everything. It’s how good sailors become great sailors. The men and women who have been around the world before will be able to read the squalls better, know when it is time to taper back and when it’s OK to push the boat. The younger sailors have their instincts and surely they have a knack for speed, but nothing beats the experience of having seen it before.
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The first leg of the race starts October 11 and extends from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa, a 6,487 nautical mile distance that is expected to take 3 to 4 weeks. In all, the seven teams will travel to 11 cities in 11 countries, finishing June 27, 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, teams will be scoring points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams will compete in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition – the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series.

Race website: http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/home.html

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