The Ocean Race

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The Ocean Race
Race participants in Baltimore Inner Harbor, 2006
FormerlyWhitbread Round the World Race (1973-2001), Volvo Ocean Race (2001-2019)
First held1973
Yachts usedVolvo Ocean 65 IMOCA Open 60 (Since 2021)
StartAlicante, Spain (2017)
FinishThe Hague, Netherlands (2018)
Champion Dongfeng Race Team (2018)

The Ocean Race is a yacht race around the world, held every three years.[1] Originally named after its initiating sponsor, British Whitbread brewing company, it carried the name of Swedish automobile manufacturer Volvo from 2001. Since 2019 it has been renamed The Ocean Race, following four months of being known under a working title of "Fully-Crewed Around the World Race (FCAWR)", and is owned by Atlant Sports Group.

Presently, the Netherlands holds the record of three wins, with Dutchman Conny van Rietschoten the only skipper to win the race twice.

Though the route changes to accommodate various ports of call, the race typically departs Europe in October, and in recent editions has had either 9 or 10 legs, with in-port races at many of the stopover cities. The 2008–09 race started in Alicante, Spain, on October 11, 2008.[1] The route for the 2008–2009 race was altered from previous years to include stopovers in India and Asia for the first time.[2] The 2008–09 route covered nearly 39,000 nmi (72,000 km), took over nine months to complete, and reached a cumulative TV audience of 2 billion people worldwide.[3]

During the nine months of the 2011–12 Volvo Ocean Race, which started in Alicante, Spain in October 2011 and concluded in Galway, Ireland, in July 2012, the teams were scheduled to sail over 39,000 nmi (72,000 km) of the world's most treacherous seas via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, around Cape Horn to Itajaí, Miami, Lisbon, and Lorient.

As in the previous editions the 2014–15 Volvo Ocean Race started in Alicante, Spain on October 11. Destination was Gothenburg, Sweden, scheduled for June 2015, with stopovers in the ports of Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Lisbon, Lorient, and with a Pitstop at The Hague through the last leg.

Each of the entries has a sailing team of professional crew (in the 2014-2015 race) who race day and night for more than 20 days at a time on some of the legs. The crew members are required to be more than sailors, some of them will be trained in medical response, sail-making, diesel engine repair, electronics, nutrition, mathematics, and hydraulics. There is also a dedicated media crew member, called the On Board Reporter (OBR) who does not contribute to the sailing of the boat, but is responsible for sending images and video to race headquarters via satellite from the middle of the ocean. In the 2017-2018 race the number of crew ranged between 7 and 10 (plus the OBR) depending on the gender ratio, with the rules providing an incentive to having women sailors on board.

Fresh food is not permitted to be taken on board after the start, so the crew lives off freeze-dried fare; they will experience temperature variations from −5 to +40 degrees Celsius and will only take one change of clothes.[4][5]


In 1972 England's Whitbread company and the British Royal Naval Sailing Association agreed to sponsor a globe-circling regatta, which would be called the 'Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race'.

Volvo Ocean Race flag in Baltimore Inner Harbor, United States

17 yachts and 167 crew started the first race of 27,500 nmi (50,900 km), which began from Portsmouth, United Kingdom on 8 September 1973. Approximately 3000 spectator boats set out to witness the historic start.[6] The first race was won by Mexican amateur Ramon Carlin in a Swan 65 yacht, Sayula II [7][8][9]

The original course was designed to follow the route of the square riggers, which had carried cargo around the world during the 19th Century.[10]

From 2001 the ownership of the race was taken over by Volvo and Volvo Cars and the race was renamed the ‘Volvo Ocean Race’. Stopover ports were added in Germany, France, and Sweden being Volvo's three biggest car markets in Europe.[citation needed]

Winning the race does not attract a cash prize, as the feat of competing is presented as sufficient reward.[citation needed]

Many of the crew in the Volvo Ocean Race race crew other professional teams in other high-profile events, such as the Olympic Games, Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the America's Cup, or the Fastnet Race.

The worst weather conditions are usually encountered in the Southern Ocean where waves sometimes top 150 feet (46 m) and winds can reach 70 knots (130 km/h). (Citation needed)

The 2017-18 race covered (approx.) 45,000[11] nautical miles, which is the longest route in its history.[12]

The yachts[edit]

The Volvo Open 70 has been replaced by the Volvo Ocean 65,[13] a new class of high performance one-design racing yacht created by Farr Yacht Design and built by a consortium of four European boatyards (Green Marine (UK), Decision (Switzerland), Multiplast (France) and Persico Marine (Italy)). For the 2021-22 edition of the race, two classes of boats will be used - the IMOCA 60 and the Volvo Ocean 65 (now VO65).

List of races[edit]

Edition Class Legs In-Port Races Entries Start Finish Winning yacht Winning skipper
1973–74 32–80 ft (9.8–24.4 m) 4 0 17 United Kingdom Portsmouth United Kingdom Portsmouth Mexico Sayula II Mexico Ramón Carlin
1977–78 51–77 ft (16–23 m) 4 0 15 United Kingdom Portsmouth United Kingdom Portsmouth Netherlands Flyer Netherlands Conny van Rietschoten
1981–82 43–80 ft (13–24 m) 4 0 29 United Kingdom Portsmouth United Kingdom Portsmouth Netherlands Flyer II Netherlands Conny van Rietschoten
1985–86 49–83 ft (15–25 m) 4 0 15 United Kingdom Portsmouth United Kingdom Portsmouth France L'esprit d'équipe France Lionel Péan
1989–90 51–84 ft (16–26 m) 6 0 23 United Kingdom Southampton United Kingdom Southampton New Zealand Steinlager 2 New Zealand Sir Peter Blake
1993–94 85 ft (26 m) ketchs
& Whitbread 60
6 0 14 United Kingdom Southampton United Kingdom Southampton New Zealand NZ Endeavour New Zealand Grant Dalton
1997–98 Whitbread 60 9 0 10 United Kingdom Southampton United Kingdom Southampton Sweden EF Language United States Paul Cayard
2001–02 10 0 8 United Kingdom Southampton Germany Kiel Germany Illbruck Challenge United States John Kostecki
2005–06 Volvo Open 70 9 7 7 Spain Vigo Sweden Gothenburg Netherlands ABN AMRO I New Zealand Mike Sanderson
2008–09 10 7 8 Spain Alicante Russia Saint Petersburg Sweden Ericsson 4 Brazil Torben Grael
2011–12 9 10 6 Spain Alicante Republic of Ireland Galway France Groupama 4 France Franck Cammas
2014–15 Volvo Ocean 65 9 10 7 Spain Alicante Sweden Gothenburg United Arab Emirates Azzam United Kingdom Ian Walker
2017–18 10 12 7 Spain Alicante Netherlands The Hague China Dongfeng Race Team France Charles Caudrelier
2021–22 IMOCA & Volvo Ocean 65 Spain Alicante

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "United Kingdom - Volvo Car UK Ltd". Archived from the original on 24 February 2009.
  2. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race - Race Schedule". Volvo Ocean Race.
  3. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race - Marketing". Volvo Ocean Race. Archived from the original on 2 August 2008.
  4. ^ Volvo Ocean Race (2014-10-21), Life at the Extreme - Ep. 2 - 'Time to say goodbye' | Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15, retrieved 2017-02-23
  5. ^ Moynihan, Tim. "Grueling 39K-Mile Yacht Race Tests the Sanity of Cramped Crews". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  6. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race - History". Volvo Ocean Race.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race – talkSailing".
  11. ^ "2014-15 - 10 ports, 40,000 miles". Volvo Ocean Race. Archived from the original on 18 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race to stop in Newport, RI". Yahoo!. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  13. ^ "The Volvo Ocean 65 – cool design, emotional impact". Volvo Ocean Race. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]