Route analysis of The Ocean Race 2021-22

Published on April 1st, 2020

by Justin Chisholm, Yacht Racing Life
The recently announced round the world route for the next edition of The Ocean Race in 2021-22 revealed an interesting mixture of familiar stopover ports along with three new cities for the fleet to visit on its way around the world.

But what do the sailors think of the new course configuration? We have been speaking to a variety of past and present competitors to find out. We begin with American yachtsman Ken Read – a three-time Ocean Race competitor (2005-06 with Ericsson, 2008-09 and 2011-12 as skipper of Puma Ocean Racing) and the current CEO of North Sails.

We spoke to Read from his home in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, a short distance from the legendary sailing city of Newport which will once again host The Ocean Race fleet at the end of Leg 5 from Itajaí, Brazil, prior to the transatlantic crossing on Leg 6 to Aarhus in Denmark.

Read said that at first glance it is clear that the 2021-22 edition racecourse – like the last several editions – has understandably been influenced by commercial factors.

“This kind of modernish racecourse certainly takes into account some commercial stops that obviously weren’t there in the good old days, in the Whitbread days,” he said. “But at the same time they tried to minimize stops a little bit, because frankly stopovers are hugely expensive for the teams who are all trying to get the budget down.

“But they have still come up with some really interesting legs and an overall course that still has plenty of excitement to it. Cape Town to China is certainly the one that has still the most question marks. The rest are pretty straight forward and in some form or fashion have been done in the past or at least something like it has been done in the past.

“So all in all, no shocks and I’m happy that the race is coming back to Newport.”

According to the official announcement, the 2021-22 edition will be shorter in distance (38,000 nautical miles) and there will be two less pit stops. However, Read discounts the mileage reduction at least as pretty irrelevant.

“I never really look at the overall length of the race versus the actual sailing distance of a race,” he said. “The sailing distance just depends on how easily you can get into some of the trade winds. There’s a lot of legs here that you will end up actually looping yourself way out and around going the long way to avoid either land or a wind obstacle that’s traditionally in the way – like the Atlantic high that we sail around normally on the first leg.” Full report.


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The Ocean Race 2021-22 (formerly The Volvo Ocean Race) will be raced in two classes of boats: the high-performance, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the one-design VO65 class which has been used for the last two editions of the race. Entries in the IMOCA 60 class will compete for The Ocean Race trophy, while those racing the VO65s will chase the Ocean Challenge Trophy.

Ten Stopovers for 14th Edition:
Alicante, Spain: This historic Mediterranean port will host the start for the fifth consecutive edition in the autumn of 2021.

Cabo Verde: More accustomed to having offshore teams sail by, or stop for repair, this archipelago of ten volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean will become just the second African venue the race has ever visited and the first West African nation to host the event. Details.

Cape Town, South Africa: Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town, as the oldest urban area in South Africa, was developed by the United East India Company (VOC) as a supply station for Dutch ships sailing to East Africa, India, and the Far East. Located at latitude 33.55° S, it’s approximately the same as Sydney and Buenos Aires and equivalent to Casablanca and Los Angeles in the northern hemisphere. Details.

Shenzhen, China: Located in the southeast, the city is a modern metropolis that links Hong Kong to China’s mainland. It’s known for its shopping destinations and features contemporary buildings, such as the 600m-tall skyscraper Ping An International Finance Centre, and a number of amusement parks. The city is a leading global technology hub and was one of the fastest-growing cities in the world in the 1990s and the 2000s. Details.

Auckland, New Zealand: European, Polynesian, Asian, and strong Maori heritages give Auckland its distinctive culture. Located in the North Island of New Zealand, it is the most populous urban area in the country with an urban population of around 1,570,100. Details.

Itajaí, Brazil: To the south of Rio de Janeiro, Itajaí was founded in the mid-19th century by German and Italian colonists, and is now the commercial centre and Atlantic port for an agricultural region drained by the Itajaí River and its tributaries. Details.

Newport, USA: Located on Aquidneck Island, Newport is 74 miles south of Boston and 180 miles northeast of New York City. It is known as a New England summer resort and is famous for its historic mansions and its rich sailing history. It was the location of every challenge to the America’s Cup between 1930 and 1983. It is also the home of Naval Station Newport, which houses the United States Naval War College, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and an important Navy training center. This is the third consecutive edition of the race to stop in Newport. Details.

Aarhus, Denmark: The course comes to the east coast of the Jutland peninsula during the spring of 2022, following a popular ‘Fly-By’ of the city during the final leg of the 2017-18 edition of the Race. Details.

The Hague, Netherlands: This city along the North Sea coast will welcome the race for a third consecutive time, first coming as a ‘pitstop’ on the final leg of the 2014-15 edition and as the final finish port for the 2017-18 race. Details.

Genoa, Italy: As the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, this first-time race host is Italy’s largest sea port yet remains full of grandeur as the gateway to the Riviera while offering weighty architectural heritage. Details.

Announced Entries:
• IMOCA – Team Malizia (GER)- Boris Herrmann (GER)
• VO65 – Racing For The Planet (POR)
• IMOCA – Paul Meilhat (FRA)
• IMOCA – 11th Hour Racing (USA) – Charlie Enright & Mark Towill (USA)

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