05 Dec 2014

Excitement mounted as the Cape Town race village opened its doors amid great festivity to welcome the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean racers who’d spent 27 days at sea! Carnival dancers, drummers, live bands and local sailing boats livened the spirits of the exhausted sailors finishing the first leg of this extreme race.

Only the bold dare to take on this 8,700 nm round-the world adventure andall boats have to qualify by sailing 2,000nm non-stop (3,700km).The epic voyage started in Alicante early in October and the intrepid sailors experienced everything in the first stage - from gale force winds to the dreaded calm of the Doldrums before finally reaching Cape Town. 

This was just a taste of what to expect (after a well deserved rest in the Mother City), when setting sail for Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Lisbon, Lorient and finally Gothenburg.

Points are awarded for each leg and the teams get the same points as their finishing position - so first place gets one point and the lowest score overall wins. (The mandatory In-Port Race results are only used in the event of a tie in the overall Race).

Among the seven teams competing this year is an all-woman crew, rookies and race veterans. These include sailors from Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, UK AND USA.

In a flash their rest was over and the rejuvenated teams were ready for some exciting 45-60 minute In-Port racing. These races offer spectators the closest action short of actually being on board one of the race boats. The Boating World crew took to the water on a luxury cruiser along with hundreds of other boats jostling for the best viewing spots.

Greg said, “It was fascinating to watch competitors attempt to ‘squeeze’ out the competition and forcing them into a poor start or even pushing them onto the wrong side of the starting line.” A good start is the key to victory in these races.

After an hour of intense racing and in a thrilling finish, “Azzam" (the team from the Emirates) took the honours, followed by Team Brunel and the female Team SCA close behind. While a brewing storm had everyone scurrying for shore everyone looked forward to watching the start of the second leg of the epic Volvo race.

The big day arrived and again the Boating World team was there. Alwyn skippered the Fairline Squadron 42 with 10 people on board – among them a prospective client and his family – while Greg took control of another luxury cruiser.

By that afternoon the wind was howling with swells reaching 2.5 – 3m but this was of little consequence especially to the magnificent Squadron 42 which sliced through the waves as though they weren’t there.

This is certainly an advantage when out in the deep on big game fishing trips – not forgetting magnificent array of Lowrance electronics including the autopilot to keep the Squadron 42 on course. Explosive power from 2 x 435HP Volvo Penta inboards effortlessly reach a steady cruising speed of around 20 – 22knots all the way – even in  rough conditions.

But we digress.  Guests enjoyed the well-prepared platters of snacks and refreshments while watching the action from the huge cockpit and the flybridge area which is completely open and even features a BBQ griddle.

Gathering speed,  the magnificent racing yachts took off to complete a couple of mandatory circuits from the end of the harbour breakwater to a marker buoy in Tableview and back to the harbour entrance – before the final blast out to sea.

Then the real battle began in the race towards Robben Island and beyond - with the sight of the majestic Table Mountain getting smaller and smaller…….

While inclement weather forced the supportive onlookers back to shore, the yacht racers would focus all their attention on safely reaching their next stop in Abu Dhabi. This long haul would take 23.5 days in big seas, extreme wet and cold to hot and dry conditions.

Team Brunel eventually took first place with the Dongfeng Race Team and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in hot on their heels.

To follow the progress of the race over the next few months keep browsing: