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About the Race
globe ROUND the WORLD Auxiliary
The Volvo Ocean Race 2001-2002
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Basics
 

Distance Covered
Approximately 32,700 nautical miles (37,630 statute miles/60,560 kilometers)

Duration
9 months (September 23, 2001, to early June 2002), including one- to three-week stopovers between legs (schedule)

Frequency
Every four years

Required Class of Boat
Volvo Ocean 60 sailing yacht (64 feet/19.5 meters)

Scoring
Equal number of points awarded for each of nine legs; team with most points overall wins

Formerly known as the Whitbread Round the World Race, the Volvo Ocean Race sends superfast sloops circling the globe—the hard way.

Following the prevailing winds, the course is deliberately plotted through some of Earth’s most inhospitable environments. As a result, the eight boats competing in the 2001-02 race can expect to face three-story swells, iceberg-strewn seas, and ship-swallowing squalls.

Sailing around the clock, the 12-person crews suffer for speed. Fresh food, mattresses, pillows, and even reading material are verboten—too heavy. Everyone shares a single cabin, which wouldn’t be so bad if they had the time and the means to bathe.

The winning crew doesn’t get a cash prize—but they can count on a crystal trophy, a slap on the back, and perhaps sailing’s best bragging rights.

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Videos
 

One-minute clips reveal the challenges of the Volvo Ocean Race—with commentary from race veteran Tracy Edwards (requires RealPlayer).


Survival Suits


Fast Food


Doctor on
Deck?

And They're
Off!


Weather and
Winning

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Schedule
 
LEG ONE Southampton, England, to Cape Town, South Africa
Dates September 23 to October 23, 2001 (ETA)
Distance 7,350 nautical miles (8,460 statute miles/13,610 kilometers)
LEG TWO Cape Town to Sydney, Australia
Dates November 11 to December 4, 2001 (ETA)
Distance 6,550 nautical miles (7,540 statute miles/12,130 kilometers)
LEG THREE Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand (via Hobart, Australia)
Dates December 26, 2001, to January 3, 2002 (ETA)
Distance 2,050 nautical miles (2,360 statute miles/3,800 kilometers)
LEG FOUR Auckland to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Dates January 27 to February 19, 2002 (ETA)
Distance 6,700 nautical miles (7,710 statute miles/12,410 kilometers)
LEG FIVE Rio de Janeiro to Miami, U.S.A.
Dates March 9 to 27, 2002 (ETA)
Distance 4,450 nautical miles (5,120 statute miles/8,240 kilometers)
LEG SIX Miami to Baltimore and Annapolis, U.S.A.
Dates April 14 to 17, 2002 (ETA)
Distance 875 nautical miles (1,010 statute miles/1,620 kilometers)
LEG SEVEN Baltimore and Annapolis to La Rochelle, France
Dates April 28 to May 11, 2002 (ETA)
Distance 3,400 nautical miles (3,910 statute miles/6,300 kilometers)
LEG EIGHT La Rochelle to Göteborg, Sweden
Dates May 25 to 31, 2002 (ETA)
Distance 1,075 nautical miles (1,240 statute miles/1,990 kilometers)
LEG NINE Göteborg to Kiel, Germany
Dates June 8 to 9, 2002 (ETA)
Distance 250 nautical miles (290 statute miles/463 kilometers)
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History 

1972: Inception

England’s Whitbread company and the British Royal Naval Sailing Association agree to sponsor a globe-circling regatta, which would be called the Whitbread Round the World Race (later renamed the Volvo Ocean Race).

1973-74: First Whitbread

In September, 17 yachts of various sizes and shapes sail from Portsmouth, England, inaugurating the first Whitbread Round the World Race. They will cover some 27,000 nautical miles (31,070 statute miles/50,000 kilometers) in four legs—if they’re lucky.

In separate incidences three sailors are swept overboard, never to be seen again. The lucky majority—14 boats—cross the finish line, also in Portsmouth, some nine months after the starting shot was fired.

1977-78: Stiffening Safety Measures

In reaction to the previous race’s three fatalities, the race committee steps up safety precautions, mandating a minimum boat length of 50 feet (15.2 meters). All 15 entries complete the race, and no one is lost at sea.

1981-82: Storm-Blasted but Still Going

The third Whitbread is also devoid of casualties, unless you count the boats. Of the 29 competing yachts, 21 arrive storm-damaged at the second race port, Cape Town, South Africa—one having been seized by an Angolan gunboat and its crew detained for a week under suspicion of spying.

Twenty boats eventually complete the race.

1985-86: Success Amid Recession

The 1985-86 field—15 boats—is down from 29 entrants in 1981-82, perhaps due to the global economic downturn; the teams are already largely corporate sponsored.

All 15 entries finish the race.

1989-90: Adding Legs and Length

The race committee adds two legs—and 5,000 nautical miles (5,750 statute miles/9,260 kilometers)—to the already grueling course, largely due to anti-apartheid pressure to avoid South Africa.

On the course, which now begins and ends in Southampton, England, calamity abounds. Six boats—of 23 competing—see crewmembers thrown overboard during Leg 2; all are rescued. In Leg 3 a sailor is washed into the sea and retrieved an hour later but can’t be revived. In Leg 4 a yacht loses its keel and capsizes; its crew survives.

The Whitbread begins to attract worldwide publicity, thanks in no small part to its first all-female crew, skippered by Tracy Edwards.

1993-94: A New Class of Competitor

Before the 1993-94 race, the organizers, working with sailors and designers, draw up specifications for a new class of boat intended specifically for the Whitbread: the Whitbread 60 (today called the Volvo Ocean 60).

Allowing for variations in hull and keel designs, the new class is intended to increase safety and make scoring easier without stifling competition—but first it will have to prove itself in a mixed field.

Of the 1993-94 race’s 15 entries, 10 are Whitbread 60-class boats. The Whitbread 60s prove comparatively sluggish in slight winds but speedy in the strongest gales and hard-wearing in the wickedest seas.

1997-98: Leveling the Playing Field

The seventh Whitbread is the first to limit entry to a single class of boat, the Whitbread 60 (W60). The new regulations help raise the average team-sponsorship outlay to around ten million U.S. dollars. Perhaps as a result, the race draws ten boats, the smallest Whitbread field up to this point.

The lower number of yachts and more even playing field result in no less excitement—and the most media coverage yet.

Added to the television coverage is a near-constant Internet presence. Equipped with satellite technology, each crew sends regular e-mails, audio, and video to the official race Web site, allowing fans to follow the action as it happens. GPS (global positioning system) tracking reports the boats’ whereabouts with unprecedented accuracy and frequency.

2001-02: A Race Rechristened

This time the contest—now called the Volvo Ocean Race, after new sponsor Volvo Car Corporation—may be tougher than ever. Every leg is now weighted evenly, so crews will have to be equally at home in the high-stakes sprints as in the marathon stretches.

With the estimated cost of fielding a team running upwards of ten million U.S. dollars, the 2001-02 field of eight boats is the narrowest yet.

As in previous races they’ll blast off from Southampton, England. This time, however, they’ll finish in Kiel, Germany, after stopovers in La Rochelle, France, and Göteborg, Sweden—Germany, France, and Sweden being the Volvo’s three biggest car markets in Europe.

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