Sailing around the world

In a couple of days, on October 4th, the 2008-2009 running of the Volvo Ocean Race Round The World begins.  This is ‘life at the extreme’, sailing around the world in the most advanced yachts in there are.  People have died during this race, and boats have been lost.  The race covers much of the globe, from Spain to South Africa, Australia, Brazil, the United States, and back to Europe for the finish.  From dodging iceburgs in the Southern Ocean to standing watch in shorts, the crews experience a wide range of weather.  In-port races provide action up close, while videos are recorded and transmitted from the boats during the 5and 6,000 mile long open ocean legs.

The race began as the the Whitbread, in 1974, the result of a challenge thrown down in an English pub.  Run every 4 years until now, the race is considered the Himilayas of sailing.  The boats are now built specifically for the race, at a cost of millions of dollars.  They are constructed almost entirely of carbon, using techniques developed in the aviation industry.  In order to allow sailing even faster, they have keels which can be moved from side to side.  The last race saw 25 whole days subtracted from the previous record, with boat speeds of 25 to 30 knots being common.  One boat covered 562 miles in a 24 hour period, setting a mark which still stands.

You don’t have to be into sailing to get excited about this race, because it is flat out, balls-to-the-wall action from start to finish, apart from the occasional windless days.  The crews come from all over the world, and are the best of the best at what they do.  This race is about using a knowledge of Nature, advanced technology, and the power of the human spirit to challenge the deep blue sea.  Check it out at  They even have a web TV site, with highlights of past races.  I think that it is a lot better than watching cars burn up gas.


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