Volvo Ocean Race Fleet Ready to Compete

07 September 2001

The Volvo Ocean Race is recognized as the pre-eminent test of long-distance ocean yacht racing, with top level sailors challenging the world's toughest seas and sailing conditions in a nine-month point-to-point battle that begins September 23 in Southampton, England and ends next summer in Kiel, Germany.

But the boats themselves remain the same powerful racing machines that are so exhilarating when the conditions are favorable. Although called V.O.60s, they are 60 feet long on the water line but, with overhangs at both the bow and stern, are usually about 64 feet long. They are built from Kevlar and their carbon fibre masts tower 90 feet above the deck, supporting huge sails which develop phenomenal horsepower. Like Formula 1 race cars, they are all built to rules which control the dimensions, but allow differences for designers to exploit.

The race takes the fleet on from Cape Town to Sydney. On Boxing Day they set off on the classic Sydney to Hobart Race as part of the third leg to Auckland. Each must make a minimum pit stop in Hobart, Tasmania, of three hours. The rest of the competitors can take a day or two to recover.

From Auckland they exit the Southern Ocean when they round Cape Horn and finish the fourth leg in Rio de Janeiro. Legs five and six take them to Miami then Baltimore and the leg seven sees them re-cross the Atlantic to La Rochelle. The final two legs are almost sprints, taking them first from the Bay of Biscay to Gothenburg and then on to the finale in Kiel. It could go down to the wire.

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