The team at Wired have been doing a good job covering some of the events in the current Volvo Ocean Race:
- Grueling 39K-Mile Yacht Race Tests the Sanity of Cramped Crews
The 2014-15 edition of the race, which takes place every three years, will cover 39,000 miles, hit six continents, and run from October to June. This is the first time it will be a “one-design” race: All entrants must use a specially designed boat—the $6 million Volvo 65—with the same exact specifications. The new carbon-fiber boats, designed by Farr Yacht Design in Annapolis, Md. specifically for the next two Volvo Ocean Races and assembled in different spots around the world, are strong and sturdy.
- Why the World’s Best Sailors Still Hit Reefs in Open Water Races
But even with precautions and top equipment, you don’t always know what’s around you. The charts that record things like reefs can be off by up to five miles at some points, says Will Oxley, the navigator for Team Alvimedica. The archipelago where Vestas Wind ran aground (16°32’00.0″S 59°32’00.0″E) isn’t the proverbial uncharted territory, but it’s not particularly well charted, either. Because it’s not on a shipping route, rarely hosts races, and is nearly uninhabited, there’s been little need for detailed mapping. “This is quite new territory,” Oxley says.
- How to Repair a $6M Racing Yacht You Sailed Into a Reef
The good news is that putting in fresh carbon fiber “is relatively easily done,” Hogoboom says. The companies that built the boats still have the molds for all the parts (the current design will be used for the 2017-2018 race), and they could start making replacements while the damaged boat is dragged back. Then it’s just a question of cutting out the damaged areas and bonding on the new bits. Nonetheless, it would require a big commitment: Four companies, each in a different country, contributed parts of the boat, and they would all probably need to provide replacement parts.