The Ocean Race

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The Ocean Race
FormerlyWhitbread Round the World Race (1973–2001), Volvo Ocean Race (2001–2019)
First held1973; 51 years ago (1973)
Yachts usedVolvo Ocean 65
IMOCA 60 (Since 2021)
Start2023 Spain Alicante, Spain
Finish2023 Italy Genoa, Italy
Champion2023 11th Hour Racing Team (IMOCA 60)
2023 WindWhisper Racing Team (Volvo Ocean 65)
Race participants in Baltimore Inner Harbor, 2006

The Ocean Race is a yacht race around the world, held every three or four years since 1973. Originally named the Whitbread Round the World Race after its initiating sponsor, British brewing company Whitbread,[1] in 2001 it became the Volvo Ocean Race after Swedish automobile manufacturer Volvo took up the sponsorship,[1] and in 2019 it was renamed The Ocean Race

Each of the entries has a sailing crew who race day and night for more than 20 days at a time on some of the legs. Since the 2008–2009 race there has also been 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.

To minimize weight, crews overwhelmingly rely on freeze-dried fare for sustenance.[2] Crews are also subjected to temperature variations from −5 to +40 degrees Celsius and will often only take one change of clothes.[3][4]


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.[5] The first race was won by Mexican amateur Ramon Carlin in a Swan 65 yacht, Sayula II.[6][7][8] Sayula II was followed by Adventure, Grand Louis and Kriter.

The original course was designed to follow the route of the square riggers, which had carried cargo around the world during the 19th Century.[9]

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.[10]

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 45,000[11] nautical miles, which is the longest route in its history.[12]

The yachts[edit]

Early races had a very wide range of boat types, but concerns after the 1989–1990 race led to the development of the Whitbread 60 single design. This was a reaction to increasing costs of the biggest, "maxi", boats, and their advantage over the rest of the field – Steinlager 2 won every leg in the maxi division and was the winner overall,[13] with many of the smaller boats finishing legs more than ten days after the winner.

The Whitbread 60 design was used for all smaller boats in the 1993–1994 race, and for all in the 1997–1998 race. The race continued to be restricted to a single class for the next seven races – but moved to the Volvo Open 70, then the Volvo Ocean 65.[14]

Two classes of boats will be used for the 2021–22 edition of the race: the Volvo Ocean 65 and the IMOCA 60, an advanced open class normally raced two-handed.

The route[edit]

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.[15] The route for the 2008–2009 race was altered from previous years to include stopovers in India and Asia for the first time.[16] 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.[17]

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.

List of races[edit]

Edition Start Finish Class Legs In-Port Races Entries Winning yacht Winning skipper
1973–74 United Kingdom Portsmouth United Kingdom Portsmouth 32–80 ft (9.8–24.4 m) 4 0 17 Mexico Sayula II  Ramón Carlin (MEX)
1977–78 United Kingdom Portsmouth United Kingdom Portsmouth 51–77 ft (16–23 m) 4 0 15 Netherlands Flyer  Conny van Rietschoten (NED)
1981–82 United Kingdom Portsmouth United Kingdom Portsmouth 43–80 ft (13–24 m) 4 0 29 Netherlands Flyer II  Conny van Rietschoten (NED)
1985–86 United Kingdom Portsmouth United Kingdom Portsmouth 49–83 ft (15–25 m) 4 0 15 France L'esprit d'équipe  Lionel Péan (FRA)
1989–90 United Kingdom Southampton United Kingdom Southampton 51–84 ft (16–26 m) 6 0 23 New Zealand Steinlager 2  Sir Peter Blake (NZL)
1993–94 United Kingdom Southampton United Kingdom Southampton 85 ft (26 m) ketchs 6 0 5 New Zealand NZ Endeavour  Grant Dalton (NZL)
Whitbread 60 10 Japan Yamaha  Ross Field (NZL)
1997–98 United Kingdom Southampton United Kingdom Southampton Whitbread 60 9 0 10 Sweden EF Language  Paul Cayard (USA)
2001–02 United Kingdom Southampton Germany Kiel Whitbread 60 9 0 8 Germany Illbruck Challenge  John Kostecki (USA)
2005–06 Spain Vigo Sweden Gothenburg Volvo Open 70 9 7 7 Netherlands ABN AMRO I  Mike Sanderson (NZL)
2008–09 Spain Alicante Russia Saint Petersburg Volvo Open 70 10 7 8 Sweden Ericsson 4  Torben Grael (BRA)
2011–12 Spain Alicante Republic of Ireland Galway Volvo Open 70 9 10 6 France Groupama 4  Franck Cammas (FRA)
2014–15 Spain Alicante Sweden Gothenburg Volvo Ocean 65 9 10 7 United Arab Emirates Azzam  Ian Walker (GBR)
2017–18 Spain Alicante Netherlands The Hague Volvo Ocean 65 10 12 7 China Dongfeng Race Team  Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
2023 Spain Alicante Italy Genoa IMOCA 60 7 7 5 United States 11th Hour Racing Team  Charlie Enright (USA)
Volvo Ocean 65 3 4 6 Poland WindWhisper Racing Team  Pablo Arrarte (ESP)
 Daryl Wislang (NZL)
2026–27 A 15th edition has been announced with a start in Alicante in the winter months of late 2026 or early 2027[18]
2030–31 A 16th edition has been announced with a start in the winter months of late 2030 or early 2031[18]

Notable records[edit]

Horrevoets Trophy[edit]

In May 2009, The Ocean Race launched the Hans Horrevoets Rookie Award to recognize the outstanding under-30 sailor in each edition of the race as nominated by the respective skippers.[19]


  • 2008–09 - Michael "Michi" Mueller - Puma Ocean Racing[20]
  • 2011–12 - David "Dave" Swete - Team Sanya[21]
  • 2014–15 - Sophie Ciszek - Team SCA[22]
  • 2017–18 - Bleddyn Mon - Turn the Tide on Plastic[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Drastic early days of broken boats and high drama in Whitbread Round the World Race". Yachting World. 24 April 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  2. ^ Balman, Simone (2018-04-26). "Volvo Ocean Race Menus | Oceans from Overindulgence". Sail+Leisure. Archived from the original on 2019-11-07. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  3. ^ Volvo Ocean Race (2014-10-21), Life at the Extreme – Ep. 2 – 'Time to say goodbye' | Volvo Ocean Race 2014–15, archived from the original on 2017-04-05, retrieved 2017-02-23
  4. ^ Moynihan, Tim. "Grueling 39K-Mile Yacht Race Tests the Sanity of Cramped Crews". WIRED. Archived from the original on 2017-02-24. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  5. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race – History". Volvo Ocean Race. Archived from the original on 2015-09-06. Retrieved 2015-09-20.
  6. ^ Weber, Bruce (May 10, 2016). "Ramón Carlín, Casual Sailor Who Won a Round-the-World Race, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  7. ^ "The Weekend Sailor |". Archived from the original on 2018-04-13. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  8. ^ "The Weekend Sailor". Archived from the original on 2021-04-09. Retrieved 2019-10-08 – via
  9. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race – talkSailing". Archived from the original on 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  10. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race Trophy". Archived from the original on 2019-08-29. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  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. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race 1989-90". Archived from the original on 16 July 2021. Retrieved 16 July 2021.
  14. ^ "The Volvo Ocean 65 – cool design, emotional impact". Volvo Ocean Race. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014.
  15. ^ "United Kingdom – Volvo Car UK Ltd". Archived from the original on 24 February 2009.
  16. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race – Race Schedule". Volvo Ocean Race. Archived from the original on 2009-02-18. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
  17. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race – Marketing". Volvo Ocean Race. Archived from the original on 2 August 2008.
  18. ^ a b "Future of The Ocean Race explained". Scuttlebutt Sailing News. 2023-01-14. Retrieved 2024-02-01.
  19. ^ "New Hans Horrevoets trophy for Volvo Ocean Race Rookie". Archived from the original on 2022-05-16. Retrieved 2022-05-16.
  20. ^ "Hans Horrevoets Memorial Race - Rookieprijs voor Michi Müller". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  21. ^ "Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 | Hoops scoops MCM prize as glittering ceremony brings Race to a close". Archived from the original on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  22. ^ "Sophie Ciszek: Keeping the Flame Lit >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News". 2 May 2016. Archived from the original on 3 June 2023. Retrieved 16 May 2022.
  23. ^ Archived 2023-07-22 at the Wayback Machine [user-generated source]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]