Harken Derm

Volvo Ocean Race: So much for that myth

Published on March 20th, 2018

While there is only one global ocean, the vast body of water that covers 71 percent of the Earth is geographically divided into distinct named regions. The boundaries between these regions have evolved over time for a variety of historical, cultural, geographical, and scientific reasons.

Historically, there are four named oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic. However, most countries now recognize the Southern (Antarctic) as the fifth ocean. The Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian are known as the three major oceans.

The Southern Ocean is the ‘newest’ named ocean and is liberally referenced during the Volvo Ocean Race for the stretch of course the teams must battle between Cape Town to Cape Horn…which would be true if the teams ever got to it.

“In the early editions of the race there were no limitations on how far south you went,” explains Scallywag navigator Libby Greenhalgh. “It was a risk vs. reward decision on whether you wanted to be dodging icebergs but have more wind.

“Now the race is limited by an exclusion zone and ultimately this means the race never actually gets into Southern Ocean, which is typically defined as the sea to the south of 60°S. But don’t let that get in the way of a good story!”

For Legs 3 and 7 that have taken the fleet into the lower latitudes, the exclusion zone gets as far south as 59°S but is mostly in the mid 40s and 50s. So much for that myth.

But with the course still piercing inhospitable, remote territory known for its biting cold, 100+ foot waves and 50 knot winds, don’t expect the race commentators to change. To say the sailors are fighting for their lives in the South Pacific just doesn’t strike the right visual.


COURSE: Starting on March 18, Leg 7 takes the teams from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajaí, Brazil. Race organizers choose to estimate the tactical distance for each leg rather than list the actual distance, an unusual decision that’s revealed once the race starts and the tracker lists the actual distance to finish.

The VOR says Leg 7 is 7600 nm whereas the truth is more like 6623 nm, and once the race got started, the conflicting information led one to believe the teams covered over 1000 nm in the first 24 hours when the truth was more like 200 nm toward the finish. Their ETA in Itajaí is between April 4 and 6.

For crew lists … click here.

Race detailsTrackerScoreboardRace routeFacebookYouTube

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.

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