For a guy with such a challenging job, Volvo Ocean Race Director Jack
Lloyd seems incredibly relaxed.
Perhaps it 's due to many years of experience in America’s Cup and Volvo race
management or maybe it is his Kiwi can-do attitude, or both. His role is to
delicately balance the safety and well-being of the crew and yachts in the Race,
the voracious public appetite for the latest information from the boats while
being sympathetic to the needs of the sponsors, whose support is essential for
an international event the magnitude of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Each Volvo Open 70 yacht is equipped with a plethora of electronic gear
including Inmarsat (International Maritime Satellite) transmitters that send and
receive information between the boats and Race Control in Alicante, Spain.
Through a dedicated Race Management System, weather and other safety
information is sent to each boat twice daily. Bespoke transmitters on the boat
send information such as position, course, boat speed, wind direction and speed,
wave height, sea temperature and even data on the stresses the hulls may be
experiencing while pounding through rough seas.
Race Control constantly monitors progress of the yachts and can determine
within minutes if there is an issue on board. When it comes to safety at sea,
time is of the essence. Data from the boats is posted to the Volvo Ocean Race
website along with regular video, photos, voice and written stories hot off the
To prevent any outside assistance to the competing yachts, Race Control
monitors all voice and email communications and the yacht’s access to the
internet is restricted. Race Control must protect the integrity of the Race
while balancing the need for crew to share a birthday wish, happy anniversary or
other important news with family and friends back home.
According to Jack, the biggest challenge with the Auckland Stopover is the
short layover time between two very long race legs. The crew, whose caloric burn
greatly exceeds intake while racing, have little time to replace their body
mass. Every bit of electronic gear must be inspected and serviced to ensure it
is ready for the next leg. And all this must happen in a week or less.
The next Leg takes the fleet through the Roaring Forties of the Southern
Ocean where icebergs born in the Antarctic replace tropical coral reefs as the
hard stuff the navigators must endeavour to avoid.
Jack’s challenge is to determine where there is the potential for icebergs
along the route and set avoidance waypoints accordingly. This must be done prior
to the start of the Leg. “Nobody likes to sail to a moving target,” says
Twenty-one Kiwis on five of the six strong fleet will be sailing home to New
Zealand on this Leg but, according to Jack, Auckland is a special destination
for most of the crews. Many of them have a strong affection for the City of
Sails from previous Volvo Ocean Races and/or America’s Cup campaigns.
Those who haven’t been here are looking forward to the legendary warm
Auckland welcome and experiencing some of the wonderful treats that only New
Zealand has to