Royal Yachting Association (RYA), the national body for all forms of boating in the United Kingdom, will have an experienced new hand at the helm with the announcement that Ian Walker MBE is to take up the Director of Racing position this autumn. The double Olympic medallist, America’s Cup sailor and winning Volvo Ocean Race skipper will take up the baton from John Derbyshire OBE, who is set to retire later this year after 32 years’ involvement with the organisation, including 16 years in the Director of Racing role… For the rest of the story from Scuttlebutt Sailing News CLICK HERE!
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When the Volvo Ocean Race made a rule change to the crew limits for the 2017-18 edition, it was a reaction to a situation. The race wanted women involved, they were not confident it would occur, so they established crew combinations to insure it would.
Paul Cayard, who won the race in 1997-98 and was runner-up in 2005-6, comments in the January 2017 edition of Seahorse magazine on the crew rules.
“A rule requiring two sailors under the age of 30 has been in places since 2014. A more recent rule change now requires that teams choose the crew composition using one of seven options. Is this a political battleground or a high-level sports competition? Is equating 11 women to 7 men really helping women? I have worked with all-women teams in this event with success. I love to sail with young people. Crew composition has always been a team’s choice, not a mandate by the event. My guess is that teams may go with option 3, taking 7 experienced men and two women under 30, that way meeting both of these rules. Is that really helping top woman sailors or young men get into ocean racing?”
Also in this edition of Seahorse, Blue Robinson talked with 2014-15 race veterans Sam Davies and Sophie Ciszek of Team SCA and winner Ian Walker of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
Sam Davies, when asked how will the male crews respond: “To begin with there will be sacrifices and compromises. The guys will have to take a step backwards as they will have to understand they will be sailing with people who are less experienced than they are used to. Even though we raced the last VOR, we still have less experience than these guys, but they know they are going to have to select good women sailors to win the next race. So the more the guys help us progress the more it helps them win. Initially it will be tricky, and the guys will get frustrated at the start of this process, but soon this will be normal.”
Sophie Ciszek finds the new rule to have roots. “I see it as a bit like the under-30 rule – the more experienced guys have no choice but to take on these younger crew and try to teach them everything they know with their years of VOR experience. This is largely what has kept the race alive, with the younger generation coming through to then take lead roles onboard. I think that was an enforced rule that worked; and to get women more involved is another good solution with similarly beneficial prospects. There was only so much we could learn off each other in the last race, so to have the chance to be sailing alongside the guys will be awesome in fast-tracking female sailors to gain more serious offshore experience.”
Ian Walker believes the impact of this change will extend beyond opening doors for women. “Yes, it is to promote women’s sailing, but crucially most companies are now strongly equal opportunity and they want to be seen as such. If the sponsorship is coming from any sort of socially responsible corporate budget, there will be a very strong message to promote equal opportunities. That will help tick more boxes with potential corporate sponsorships than before.”
Full report…. click here.
Ian Walker, whose pockets are filled with two Olympic silver medals and a Volvo Ocean Race win as skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, is eager to see people give sailing a try. Here he comments…
Sailing has given me a lifetime of enjoyment and the pleasure of travelling all over the world meeting new people. What I like about sailing is the balance of a physical, technical and mental challenge. In some ways it really is like playing chess on water, but getting a good workout and lots of fresh air at the same time.
But unlike kicking a football it can appear to be a difficult sport to get started in. So how do you get started and is sailing really a sport for all? I am going to start by shattering a few myths.
Myth 1 – “You have to start young”
As in any sport, you learn faster and it comes more naturally when you are young. But the beauty of sailing is that you can sail well into retirement and everyone can find a boat to suit them. One member of my victorious Volvo Ocean Race crew didn’t start sailing until he was 19.
Myth 2 – “You have to be really strong to be good at sailing”
Obviously national teams are not only highly skilled but also very athletic these days and some jobs on a keelboat require huge physical strength. But there are lots of different jobs and some need to be done by lighter more nimble crew. Your power to weight ratio is often important and this is one reason why girls can compete so equally with men. Britain’s most famous sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur sailed around the world several times and she is tiny!
Myth 3 – “You have to be rich to sail”
It’s true that flash racing yachts cost a lot of money, but then so do top racing cars. Many boat owners are often looking for crew and willing volunteers are rarely refused. Second hand boats can be the same price as a set of golf clubs and my sailing club membership costs no more than one round of golf at a top golf course!
Myth 4 – “It is not a sport for girls”
Nothing could be further from the truth and one of the great things about sailing is how men and women compete on equal terms. It is not embarrassing to be beaten by the ladies, although we obviously fight hard to not let it happen!
Myth 5 – “You get cold and wet sailing in England”
Well I can’t promise that you won’t get your hair wet but if you buy the right sailing clothing you should stay warm and dry all year round.
Myth 6 – “If you haven’t sailed before you will be sea sick”
Maybe you will – but that is nothing to do with how much you have sailed before. In my experience about 20% of people get very sick and this is probably not the sport for them. Of the rest half will rarely ever feel ill and the others can manage it with drugs or homeopathic treatments. Some of the best sailors in the world get sea sick – including half of my Round the World crew!
Myth 7 – “You have to buy a boat to go sailing”
Again this isn’t true. You can start by doing a learn to sail courses. Clubs often have some club boats you can borrow – especially for the juniors. If not you can start like I did by crewing for other people in their boat.
Myth 8 – “Sailing is a dangerous sport especially if you can’t swim”
Being able to swim is a good idea for everyone and perhaps going sailing will motivate you to learn. If not, you should always wear a lifejacket that will keep you afloat if you fall in.
The only other real risk is banging your head on the boom and for beginners it can be good to wear a helmet until you understand about the wind.
Myth 9 – “You will get shouted at if you don’t know what you are doing”
Sadly there are some idiots who like to shout at their crew or other boats, just like there are parents who abuse game officials at youth sports. Sailing is generally a very friendly social sport and people will go out of their way to help you. The top sailors love to tell you how they won the race so you can learn a lot by listening!
Myth 10 – “you have to live by the sea”
You do not have to live by the sea as there are many lakes, reservoirs and rivers that have sailing clubs in the UK. I never sailed on the sea until I was 14 and Ellen MacArthur grew up in Derbyshire – about as far from the sea as you can get.
One obvious way to get started is to complete a recognized dinghy or yacht sailing course at a club or sailing school near you. This is not the only way though. Crewing for someone who knows what they are doing is an excellent way to learn and that is how I started in a Mirror dinghy when I was 8 years old. The best advice I can give is to find your nearest sailing club and get down there and meet the members. They should be welcoming to potential new members and they often have taster days.
For kids it is even easier as most sailing clubs probably have junior programs and junior sailing regattas. They often have club boats for kids to borrow. My kids absolutely love sailing in Junior Fortnight at our club, not so much for the sailing, but for the chance to hang out and enjoy the social side with boys and girls of their own age. There is no better feeling as a parent than to see your kids learning new skills and enjoying the new life skills that sailing brings.
For newcomers sailing can appear daunting and confusing, not least because sailors seem to speak a different language. Every part of the boat and sails has a specific name and so do all the manoeuvres. If you don’t know your luff from your clew or your gybe set from your windward side, don’t panic! Things can be explained simply and ‘pulling the red one’ is just as acceptable as ‘tailing the spinnaker halyard!’
All these words give an impression of a whole new world of knowledge and skill, but believe me you will pick it up fast. And the people who sound all knowledgeable often know less than you may think – we all started somewhere!
I hope to see you on the water soon!
(April 27, 2016) – Double Olympic medalist and 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race winner Ian Walker is calling tactics on Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator at Antigua Race Week. As the event enjoys a lay day after the big party night with Jamaican roots reggae sensation Luciano, Walker ponders the tactician’s role…
The tactician’s main job is to work closely with the navigator to devise the best tactics and race strategy. I am the decision maker for the boat, which whilst fun, can also be a brutal, lonely role – just as skippering a Volvo Ocean Race boat can be.
The job gets considerably easier when the boat is going fast and the crew is working well. Nothing makes a tactician look better than a fast, well-sailed boat! For this reason I have a big interest in helping to organise the training time, and working with the trimmers and helmsman to improve the sails and set up of the boat.
Tactics is a high-pressure game but it’s also a bit like riding a bike. You can approach it very analytically and simply manage the percentages and the risk, or you can approach it with a lot of flair, gut instinct or intuition. Is it an art or is it a science? My feeling is that first and foremost, you must treat it as a science and manage the risk and percentages – but you should never be afraid to follow your gut instinct.
Today is the Presidente Lay Day Beach Party featuring the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge.
Exciting matches punctuated opening day action at Les Voiles de St.
(March 25, 2016) – The Royal BVI Yacht Club youth sailing programme was treated to a special guest this week when world renowned sailor Ian Walker dropped by to join Tuesday’s training session.
The winning skipper of the 2014/2015 Volvo Ocean Race and double Olympic silver medalist visited the sailing centre at Nanny Cay and went out on the water with the team.
Walker skippered Abu Dhabi to victory in the 2014/2015 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, his third circumnavigation with the race having skippered Abu Dhabi in 2011/2012 and Green Dragon in the 2008/2009 races. At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, he won the silver medal in the 470 class before switching to the Star and picking up another silver in 2000. In 2004 he coached Shirley Robertson’s team to gold at the Athens Olympics in the Yngling.
The fleets of Optimists and Lasers headed out after a quick briefing onshore just like a normal Tuesday session but with an extra pair of coaching eyes analysing their performance.
Walker observed the first races from the coach boat, jumped into a Laser with Dawson van Zoost to run through some finer tuning points and then, for the final race of the session, he took on the race team in an Optimist – a far cry from the 300 tonne boat he was skippering just last week!
Giving the team a run for their money in the pre-start build up and on the start line he suffered slightly from lack of boat speed giving Team BVI the win.
Back ashore, at the debrief, he chatted with the race team about starting strategies, downwind techniques and rules, emphasizing the importance of sail set up, practice and learning to be fast through the water. The questions poured forth from the young sailors, keen to hear more on topics ranging from watch systems on the Volvo Ocean Race and prize money to the theory of apparent wind.
Britain’s Ian Walker achieved a life-time ambition by winning the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race last June as skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Here he provides his outlook forward…
Has there been time when you’ve been able to enjoy the aftermath glow of achievement winning the race?
In some regards, I’ve been struggling a little. Not helped by everybody asking me what I’m doing next! It’s taken a number of years to achieve this victory. For the first time, probably ever, I’ve not really seen an achievement like this as a stepping-stone to something else. When I won the Olympic medals (two silvers), it was immediately on into professional sailing, the America’s Cup and then to the Volvo Ocean Race.
Now I’m not really sure what I want to do next. So it’s been hard to answer the people asking that question. What I’ve decided is that I’ve got to get back racing, particularly inshore racing, because if you don’t race, train and practise then you don’t remain any good and it will slowly fall away. So I think you have to train and race to stay sharp while you work out what you want to do next.
Now that you’ve won the Volvo Ocean Race, are there any more mountains to climb for you as a professional sailor?
Wow, that’s a big question. Obviously, you’d like to win everything you enter. It’s all about getting the right programme, the right team together and being in the right place at the right time. I think, realistically, I’m not going to have a role in an America’s Cup boat any more. I think the way that’s moved on precludes that and I don’t think there’s any other event in sailing that could rival the Volvo Ocean Race or indeed the Olympics thinking back that far.
There’s a lot of great events still, and obviously the TP52s is something I’ve been very successful in before, but it’s got very new boats now, probably the most competitive racing out there. I’ve got a lot of sailing lined up. There’s a lot more sailing than there are days where I’m not sailing in the next 12 months. And I’m still hoping that Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will re-enter the next Volvo Ocean Race and I’d love to have a role in that having been involved from the start.
What is the current situation with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing returning to defend?
First of all, we will find out in January whether they will re-enter. It’s a 50-50 call right now. Secondly, it’s what management team they want and we need to sit down and discuss what they’re trying to achieve, what sort of team they want and how we’re going to go about it. Then will come the discussion who will sail the boat.
Much more, including his opinion on the future of the Volvo Ocean Race… click here
Ian Walker, skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and winner of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, voices his concern for ocean health due to marine debris and shares why he supports Sailors for the Sea.
Despite having won the Volvo Ocean Race with a leg to spare, Ian Walker and all his crew slipped into Gothenburg to take fifth place on the final leg with mile-wide grins on their faces.
If you’re getting tired of Volvo Ocean Race videos, you’ll probably want to look away. But if you like straight talk from the leaders of the race about some very serious and some not-so-serious topics, spend another hour with Clean, Nic, Charles Caudrelier, Ian Walker, and Mark Turner and watch this show.
The one design format of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race has created exceedingly close racing, with each of the first four legs having been won now by a different team. Overall leader Ian Walker, skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, spoke with Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck before the start of Leg 5 from New Zealand to Brazil, sharing his opinions and tactical approach that’s helped them get atop the standings…
Your race strategy thus far has been quite conservative. Is this confidence in your speed or concern of making a mistake?
The plan is to get on the podium in every leg, in the same way that in an Olympic Regatta you try and get in the top four or five in every race. If you can do that, then you put yourself in a position with a day or two to go where you can win the regatta. So my philosophy has been more so to let others lose a leg than try and do anything too smart to try to win it.
So we just chip away, and I think that strategy is fine as long as there’s lots of different contenders. I think as long as it is a strong fleet with different teams in the top three every time, then that’s a strategy that probably would win. That strategy will probably not win if, for instance, it becomes a two or three horse race and everybody is in the top three every time. Then you need to do better than that, and I don’t think we know the answers just yet.
Let’s not forget too how it’s pretty easy to lose this race. You’ve just got to make one mistake. Let the runner go, mast falls down, big tactical error, injuries to crew. There’s lots of ways in which you can lose this race and I guess my philosophy was more a question of don’t lose it rather than trying to win it.
With you and Dongfeng now tied on points, and six points ahead of Brunel in third, when do you think your focus will get a little tighter on just one boat?
I guess we’ve already started to see that a little bit with Dongfeng on the last leg. But I think for everybody getting to Brazil is a threshold. It’s almost like, “Let’s get this race back in the Atlantic and see where we are and if hopefully we’re still in good shape when we get to Brazil,” and then you can work out what your strategy is, because then you start to run out of legs.
You’re basically half way through the race when you go around Cape Horn. So it’s really, get it back to Atlantic, see where we lie and then revise our strategy from there. But try not to lose the race before you’re back in the Atlantic.
In the 2011-12 race you had four-hour skeds and restricted Automatic Identification System (AIS) and this race has six-hour skeds but with fully-operable AIS. How have you found yourself reacting to this difference?
Six hours is a long time. When you’re going 20 knots and you’re on opposite tacks, you can end up a long way from people very quickly. I mean we lost leg two because we were at 14 miles to windward of Brunel and Dongfeng, and they put the bow down for that whole six hour sked and we didn’t realize it.
So if you’re 10 degrees lower doing 20 knots for 6 hours, you’ll probably get nearly 20 miles more separation. It’s just a long time. Even if someone sails five degrees lower and faster than you and you don’t know it, for six hours, you can do untold damage. But it is what it is.
But with that said, I’m sort of in favor of the longer sked. It reduces the work in the navigation station slightly. When you’re behind, you’re in favor of it, and when you’re winning, you’re not in favor of it, because it increases the chance of you losing control. I guess the longer sked is a good thing to allow people to make some tactical moves.
Regarding AIS, there’s been a huge debate about it. I’ve always have been a little bit anti-it, I think it’s just another thing in the Nav station. It’s another de-skilling of the sailor’s role, if you like. No longer do you sit there with hand-bearing compasses trying to work out who’s pulling bearing on you. Especially at night, trying to work out where the breeze is best through that, you just look at the AIS computer screen.
AIS tells you what speed people are doing and what angle they’re doing and you can be very quick to react. Especially at night when someone gets more wind, you see it instantly and you can get over there. It turns the sailing into a sort of massive two boat testing run, with a lot of accuracy.
I think it also drives you nuts on board, because you can get obsessed with it. You find yourself sitting there going, “Oh they going too fast or are now two degrees higher,” and you’re looking at the computer screen and you’re trying to re-trim, but then you have to remind yourself, “They’re eight miles away from me. They could be gone the opposite tack.”
So as time goes on we’re increasingly looking at the longer term AIS averages just so we don’t drive ourselves nuts. We used to look at it constantly and then we used to look at the two minute average. Now we don’t look at anything other than the 10 minute average, just to try and calm down a bit.
What have you found to be the AIS range between boats?
It really depends but ten miles is the average. We sometimes pick people up to eleven, eleven and a half miles I’ve even seen. I’ve seen eve a flash of somebody 12 miles away. It depends on how good somebody’s VHF aerial is. Some boats are stronger than others. I know Alvimedica for instance on the leg to China had a bit of a problem. We couldn’t see them if they were more than four miles away. But in broad terms its 10 miles.
I suspect there can be strategic uses of the AIS range.
Well, sometimes it’s not advantageous to be in the lead. You imagine, particularly with all the coastal sailing we’ve done. You come into a headland. You can instantly see whether the boat ahead has slowed down, what heading they’re doing, therefore you can work out what wind direction they’ve likely got, you can then alter course and go around the outside of them or whatever. It gives you a pretty strong insight.
With regard to the range, we talked about it in the last leg when we were behind Dongfeng. We said, “Well, if we’re five miles behind them, we’re never going to overtake them. Because every time we alter course, they’ll alter course with us.” We said, “If you were 12 miles behind they wouldn’t be able to see you, and then you can actually do something.” So I sort of jokingly said, “Maybe we should slow down, so that they can’t see us.”
With hindsight on leg 2, when we were about 14 miles to windward of Dongfeng and Brunel going into the northern doldrums, we should’ve reached down and got into range so we could have matched them. But instead they were out of range, and they slipped away from us. So, yeah, I think it is definite a tactical consideration.
The safety aspect of AIS must be comforting.
If you ignore the sailing and the AIS between each other, safety-wise it is outstanding. Every single ship you come across you can work out very quickly whether you’re on a collision course. If you are on a collision course, you know the name of the ship, you can radio them, you can identify yourself, they can see who you are, you can ask them to alter course a little bit for you.
Before, it was like, “Big ship, big ship, this is Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing,” and you get some Filipino who don’t know what you’re talking about. Now you can be much more specific with the name and the vessel. So I think safety-wise, it’s a huge step forward for the marine industry. And it’s not to speak about things like man overboard as well and being able to pick up people in the water with AIS units.
Last race we had the AIS, and we used it to receive but we didn’t transmit. We only transmitted in busy shipping areas, like Singapore Straits and the English Channel. I don’t think there’s any going back. It is what it is.
Funnily enough, in the last race, which was won overall by Franck Cammas’ Groupama 4 team, their AIS was transmitting during the race without them realizing the switch was wrong. So all the while we could see them, all the other competitors could see them, and they never knew. We had a deal with the other teams that we wouldn’t let them know, so nobody told them, and it wasn’t until were about two thirds of the way through the race before they realized [chuckles].
This is Part Three of a three part series with Ian Walker.
Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven 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. The fifth leg, from Auckland, NZL to Itajaí, Brazil (6,776 nm), began March 18 with an ETA in approximately three weeks. Race website.
The Southern Ocean, with its relentless weather and waters, tests man and machine like no other location. Volvo Ocean Race leader Ian Walker, skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, spoke with Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck before the start of Leg 5 from New Zealand to Brazil, providing an update on the machine…
During the 2011-12 race, the Southern Ocean leg from New Zealand to Brazil saw four of the six teams suffer significant damage. Any concerns with the Volvo Ocean 65?
We had some pretty exceptional weather leaving Auckland. You expect it to be windy, but I don’t think you expect it to be 40, 50 knots for weeks on end. Although we are now late in the season, so there’s every possibility it could be very, very windy. It’s certainly been very windy for the Barcelona World Race, but I don’t think we’ll see the same problems as we did in the2011-12 edition.
These boats are a lot stronger, but it is going to be the first real hard test. It’s been pretty light so far, so there are still unknowns, but for sure the boats are a lot stronger. However, we still don’t really know where the red line is. No one’s actually gone past it and broken one of these boats fully. We still have difficult judgments to make on how hard to push, because until you actually go beyond the red line, you don’t know that you’ve pushed too hard.
But the Volvo Ocean 65s have been holding up okay?
I think it’s easy to underestimate how big a task it is to build seven boats of this size that are as one-design as they are. And for sure, there’s things people would do differently on the boats, and there’s lots of things we’ve learnt as we’ve gone along. But what they did do is go to great lengths to protect the sanctity of the one-design. I think if people start questioning the levelness of the boats, it would effectively undermine the whole foundations of the race. And we don’t have that.
So I think in that case, they’ve done a good job. I think they can do a better job right now of measurement and the ongoing work, and maintenance of that. But I think certainly in the first instance, in the build and the launch of the boats, I think they’ve done a very good job.
When the 2013-14 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race launched their new fleet of identical 70-foot boats, failures to the forestay bottlescrews required a dramatic retrofit mid race. If something goes wrong, it goes wrong in a big way with this one-design format. How big a concern has that been?
Well, there is that risk, isn’t there? That if there’s a problem, there’s a problem for everyone. I guess they had to make sure they did their homework in terms of making sure that there was enough safety margin on everything. We’ve already seen it to a certain extent, like the J1 locks breaking. But fortunately, that’s not a forestay hanger or a keel pin or something more major. It’s something we can manage and hopefully rectify.
Has there been any other breakage areas?
No, not too many. That padeye for Dongfeng on Leg 1 was a really strange one. That should never have broken. I suspect that was damaged hoisting the boat out of the water, or some unusual loading. But obviously, the race organizers didn’t want to take any risks so they redesigned the fitting and now the thing looks like the QE2 back there. Which I guess is a good thing, because it’s dangerous when things like that let go. It’s very dangerous and causes a lot of other damage. So I think that’s the right approach to just make absolutely certain that these things are strong enough.
The biggest discussions right now are probably surrounding the outriggers, which are used to extend outboard the headsail lead position. We’ve broken a few padeyes that hold the strops, which hold the outriggers. And that’s a slightly complex thing, because the angle at which you hold the outriggers has a huge effect on the loading of them. And so different teams are using them in different ways, and I suspect the loads are a bit underestimated. And they’re a new thing.
Outriggers are not a normal thing you have on a boat. I mean, they’re not even allowed under ISAF rules. So there’s a learning curve there. And they’re certainly putting in some extra padeyes, or stronger padeyes, or secondary padeyes to cover that. So they react pretty fast, and are very quick to jump on any potential weaknesses. But thank goodness thus far we haven’t had a Clipper Race type of breakage.
Have the outriggers proven to be a helpful feature?
I think when we first saw them, we were all like, “Oh God, they look like a right hassle,” and, “Do we really need them?” And blah, blah, blah. But I think the more we used them in the training, the more we understood them, and the more we realized what a huge effect they can have on your speed in certain points of sail. So we’re at the point now where I don’t think any of us want to get rid of them, because they make a significant difference to how fast we go. And we all want to get the next stopover as quickly as possible.
So they’ve become a new speed variable?
As an example, very often you’ll want to have a staysail up. Let’s just forget the outriggers for a minute. You want to sail with the staysail. And you’re prepared to maybe sail five degrees lower than your optimum course in order to keep the staysail in, because there’s a jump in performance when you get the staysail in. So you compromise your routing slightly in order to get the staysail in. Well, it can kind of be the same with the outriggers. If you’re outside a certain angle, you can use the outriggers, and that then has a jump in performance, similar to trying sail around the staysail.
So the outrigger definitely makes a difference. I think there is a different level of knowledge and usage of them amongst the teams. The teams that have trained more with them, and we’re definitely in that bracket, probably have a better understanding than other teams. All the reaching in leg four from China really demonstrated this. Up to that point, it’s mainly been light air, lots of downwind, lots of upwind. It’s only this last leg where we started power reaching at all.
How are the sails doing? Are they proving to be sufficiently durable?
I’m continually amazed when I look at the mainsail, what great shape it looks in. I remember two races ago when we had a 3DL mainsail. I remember arriving in India, which was the end of leg two. I remember taking the mainsail down and you literally you couldn’t pull it down without putting your hands through the sail. It was falling apart in your hands as you took it down. Those were in the days when you used three mainsails for a race, and that was only two races ago.
But right now our mainsail looks brand new as we sit here in New Zealand. And we have to do a lot with it. We have to use them for Pro-Am races, In-Port races, and all our training days. It’s not just the actual time sailing either but also all the hoists and drops. Sure, it’s been quite light thus far, but the mainsail looks in great shape. And the other sails, so far so good. But you got to look after them. If you flog the sails when you’re furling or dropping or hoisting then– some teams have had some problems, but I can’t recall any team yet blowing a sail out on a leg, yet. Not as far I can remember. But maybe that’s all ahead of us.
This is Part Two of a three part series with Ian Walker. More to come.
Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven 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. The fifth leg, from Auckland, NZL to Itajaí, Brazil (6,776 nm), begins March 18 with an ETA in approximately three weeks. Race website.