Now that the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race route is getting more defined and three official entries have been made public, we take a look at the state of affairs of the premiere round-the-world sailing race. Parts of the following information have already been divulged while the remaining are based on sources that are deemed to be very reliable.
Route – Stopovers
A little bit over a month ago, we published what we thought was going to be the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race route. In general lines our sources were very accurate even if we missed the first Brazilian stopover, it turned out to be Recife instead of Rio as we speculated, and got the Chinese stopover wrong as well. The VO65 fleet will not visit Hong Kong as our sources were claiming but instead Sanya, something that will be officially announced in a few weeks.
The race will start in Alicante, head to Recife in Brazil and from there to Abu Dhabi. This part of the route has been officially announced but what is still unknown is how race organizers will tackle the issue of piracy off the east African coasts and the delicate issue of sailing through the Strait of Hormuz. In the previous race, the fleet stopped at the Maldives, the VO70′s were loaded onto a cargo ship and transported to the northern UAE coast from where they sprinted to Abu Dhabi.
It seems that this time the preferred solution to that issue will be sailing to an Indian port, probably Mumbai, hence our call for an Indian stopover. If that occurs it will not be a full-fledged stopover but more of a technical stop. It appears that scoring will only apply from Recife to the Indian port. From there on, teams could have the liberty to sail to the UAE but will not score any points towards the overall race. Racing will resume, similar to 2011-12, at a certain point off the northern Emirati coast and the fleet will then sprint to Abu Dhabi. The same scheme, but in reverse order, will apply on the leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya. Again, this is a possible, plausible scenario, according to our “spies” in Alicante, but it seems no definite decision has been taken yet.
Once the VO65′s sail off the Chinese city they will go to Auckland, then Itajaì and on to Newport, their final stopover before sailing to Europe. The first stop could be again in Lisbon but that will depend on the city council that is voting this week whether to fund another event or not. Volvo Ocean Race organizers would rather have a European stopover with a local team but that seems highly improbable with the exception of Rotterdam. The French port of Lorient had signed for two editions, so it could be the first European stopover. However, the only fact that has been officially published, in regards to Europe, is that the race will finish in Gothenburg, Sweden.
1. Team SCA: The all-female team, sponsored by Sweden-based forest products multinational group, was the first official entry of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. The team, headed by Richard Brisius, was officially presented on August 21st, 2012, and is currently holding its crew selection trials in their training base in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote.
2. Team Recife: The Brazilian team was the second official entry and was presented on January 17th, 2013. Very little is known about the team or its crew, other than it is backed by the city of Recife and the state of Pernambuco.
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing: The capital of the United Arab Emirates returns to the Volvo Ocean Race with a stopover and a team, skippered, once again, by British Olympic medallist Ian Walker. The entry was presented earlier today.
4. Alinghi: The two-time America’s Cup winners haven’t made their entry official yet but everything points to an official presentation in Geneva on March 2nd, a symbolic date that will mark the tenth anniversary of their first America’s Cup victory. On that date, Alinghi, skippered by Russell Coutts, scored their fifth and final win against Team New Zealand and claimed the America’s Cup. We have little information on Alinghi’s crew for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race other than the fact that Brad Butterworth will be the skipper.
5. Ambersail / Lithuanian-Baltic Team: A Lithuanian-Baltic project, Ambersail, is said to have acquired the first VO65 boat. Ambersail is headed by Lithuanian skipper Simonas Steponavicius and currently owns the former Assa Abloy Volvo 60. According to various sources within the race and the teams, it seems Ambersail had the necessary budget to purchase the boat but not to run the project.
6. Team Campos / MAPFRE: Despite his initial criticism of the one-design VO65, Pedro Campos is eager to enter. Telefonica will not continue its sponsorship and his team is now called Team Campos / MAPFRE. It appears MAPFRE (a Spanish insurance group) will provide, at least, part of the necessary funding. The team is currently trying to break the Discovery Route record, with their rebranded VO70.
7. Dutch Team: This is probably one of the strongest and most plausible efforts, led by Team Heiner sailing events organization together with Dutch VOR veterans Gerd-Jan Poortman and Bouwe Bekking. They are aiming at a reasonable budget of 16 million euros but the tough European situation will surely not be in their favor.
8. Chinese Team: There is strong appetite for a Chinese entry and there are good indications it could become a reality but this time in the form of a real Chinese team, not just a foreign-led project with the usual one-two Chinese sailors to justify its name.
9. Indian Team: An Indian entry is also rumored to be planned but we don’t have any further information.
10. South African Team: There is talk of a serious effort to build a South African team, based out of Cape Town but it is difficult to see how they could get any local corporate funding with the absence of a South African stopover in this, and probably the next, edition of the race.
If you are a regular reader of our website and haven’t been stricken by lightning that resulted in total memory loss, you must be aware that for the very fist time, the Volvo Ocean Race will be sailed on one-design yachts, VO65′s, that are being built by a consortium of boatyards, commissioned by race organizers. As a result, teams are no longer involved in the design and construction of their yachts and have to buy them from Green Marine.
The hull of the very first VO65 was recently finished and the entire yacht is scheduled to be launched next July. Subsequent yachts are scheduled to be delivered with a frequency of one each 8 weeks.
VO65 Boat #1: As we stated earlier, the first boat has been, allegedly, purchased by Ambersail. This could be an awkward situation if the project is unable to find the necessary funding to continue.
VO65 Boat #2: Team SCA is said to have the right to this yacht
VO65 Boat #3: Team Recife is said to have the right to this yacht
VO65 Boats #4 & #5: According to an insider in Alicante there seems to be a rivalry concerning the delivery of Boat #4, in view of an alleged delay in boat deliveries after the fourth one. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Alinghi are apparently vying for Boat #4 as it could mean an advantage of various months! However, it seems that the first to write the check and transfer the close to 5 million euros will get the rights to Boat #4.