6:00 PM | December 4 2017

Volvo Ocean Race to make waves in Australia

Melbourne will host a stop of the world’s toughest sailing test during the Christmas and New Year period as boats and crews take a well-earned break from racing across challenging stretches of ocean. The event is also the Australian public’s first chance to see the All-New XC40 in the metal.

It’s recognised as sailing’s ultimate test. The Volvo Ocean Race combines excitement, endurance and skill, as crews of men and women battle against nature – cutting through giant waves of the world’s roughest seas in streamlined, state-of-the-art boats.

And this year the event returns to Australia for the first time in more than a decade. Come on board and don your life jacket as I Roll charts a course through the history of this world-famous yachting contest, provides a lowdown on this year’s route, and reveals how you can gain a fascinating, first-hand experience of life on the racing boats.

The first Volvo Ocean Race, or Whitbread Round the World Ocean Race as it was then known, set off from Portsmouth on 8th September 1973. A 17-strong armada of private boats of varying shapes and sizes from seven different countries took part in the competition that lasted seven months and covered 43,500 kilometres over four legs. The race began by heading for Cape Town in South Africa before travelling to Sydney, stopping off in Rio de Janeiro and then starting the long journey back to Portsmouth. It was a more casual nautical challenge compared with the ruthless professionalism and meticulous preparation we associate with the race today.

2017/2018 RACE
This year’s Volvo Ocean Race is already well underway, after the boats set off from Alicante, on Spain’s Costa Blanco, on 22nd October. The 2017/2018 edition requires the competing teams to cover the longest racing distance in the event’s history – covering approximately 45,000 nautical miles over 11 legs as they cross four oceans and take in five continents and 12 major cities. This is the 21st edition of the competition since it was acquired by Volvo Cars, which valued the race’s shared attributes of engineering prowess, design and teamwork.

Since the 2014-2015 race, the performance of the boats has been focused on the crews and their captains after the introduction of a single-design approach. The Volvo Ocean 65 Class used by all teams is designed by Farr Yacht Design, and designed, engineered and built to be a high-performing, durable and competitive race machine suited to tackling the world’s toughest waters. It allows for tightly contested racing, with a smaller speed difference between the 65-foot boats yet with speed on the water that is just as fast as it has ever been.

The Volvo Ocean Race crews will be celebrating Christmas and New Year in Australia – while recovering from the endeavours of the Cape Town to Melbourne leg (Leg 3) that will be particularly fiercely contested owing to the double points on offer. Melbourne last hosted the race in 2005-2006, and this year marks the eighth time the event has visited Australia since that first race in 1973-74. Melbourne’s interactive Race Village is situated at the Docklands’ Harbour Esplanade and opens 27th December, with the boats estimated to start arriving from the day after. New Year’s Day provides an exciting start to 2018 for visitors: the Ocean 65 yachts will be open to the public, providing a unique, first-hand insight into onboard living conditions – before the fleet embarks on Leg 4 to Hong Kong on 2nd January. It’s not the only exclusive display. The All-New Volvo XC40 – the company’s first ever compact SUV – will also be on show in Australia for the first time, months ahead of its local release.


Read the rest of our December I Roll stories here.