Please select your home edition
Edition
Protector 728x90

Volvo Ocean Race- Being a Volvo Ocean Race Virtual Sailor

by Lorraine MacIntosh on 1 Jul 2012
Approaching Lorient finish with the toll showing - Volvo Ocean Race Lorraine MacIntosh

We can’t all be Franck Cammas or Chris Nicholsons and sail the high seas, but one can be in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Over 212,000 registrations for VORG show the appeal of going virtual. But beware; the hazards may not be 40 knot winds or six metre waves, but the addictive powers of virtual racing while one tries to live in a normal world.

My own sailor started his virtual sailing life with Oceanic Virtual Regattas back in 2004 and went round-the-world with the Barcelona World Race in 2011.

So as number one supporter, and the Kiwi in the family, I was somewhat accustomed to being a computer sailor’s wife when the he undertook the VORG challenge. The first leg was pretty normal, a few encounters with the land mass of North Africa, several over-sleeps during weather changes, and some real work getting done, so a 95,907th placing seemed appropriate. But the sailor was learning and competition was mounting.

Navigation skills are to the fore in this sailing world and my racer, alias Tempest, was told that another navigator had produced a program after deciding there had to be another way to manage the endless calculations involved by the serious sailor. So taking Zezo on board during Leg 3 somewhere in the Malacca Strait and reduced navigational calculation times up to 90%.

This, along with a bit more dedication to the process, produced a 1491th placing: things were happening. It didn’t stop there with 879th, 176th, and 73rd placings in Legs 4 to 6.

Leg 7 out of Miami and Tempest was getting into a rhythm. It was getting serious. With no computer connection in the house, nights were spent amongst the spinnakers in our nearby sail loft. Not too different from the real stuff. His beard was growing and his hair was going in any direction with showers not a priority. That’s alright when you’re out on the Southern Ocean with everyone else in the same boat, but on land, not so great to be around.

By Leg 8 all lessons appeared to be learned. Even crossing the line in the top 20 in Lisbon to find that hitting land in too short a time after finishing wiped your boat out and kicked you back 40 odd places (although that bug was fixed). Still his second boat on the leg managed 34th place.

For Leg 8 Tempest determined the leg would be won in the up-wind stage so the boat had to get to the Sao Miguel gate in the Azores Islands first, something he managed with all his three boats. Sao Miguel to Lorient it was a run down-wind trying to cover the fleet through storm and raging winds. No broken rudders or record-setting speed runs but the boats can still loose speed by damaging sails and exhausting the crew if you don’t feed them (I like that touch).

[Sorry, this content could not be displayed]We do live in a techo age and virtual racing has allowed an incredible number of sailors and would be sailors around the globe to enjoy the challenge, after all not everyone can make a living sailing.

Mind you the dedicated virtual sailor is seriously challenged in this aspect and often has to hoodwink an employer into thinking they are still working or if it’s your own business to keep some work moving to pay the bills. One racer reported a business meeting during the time when the crucial tack was needed nearing Sao Miguel and his chances in the leg were lost.

The reports from those running in the top 10 overall, and chasing a brand new Volvo with wheels, show daily living has been turned on its head by the dedication that has had to be applied from day 1 to achieve the necessary consistency.

Tempest has been happy to get a seat at the final race in Galway and the prize giving: time to rub shoulders with the real sailors. As in any real race the camaraderie, the country pride, and the obsession with doing it are all there.

If you’re game it’s an option but be warned: for the experienced and inexperienced it’s an addictive pastime.




Ancasta Botin Fast40 660x82PredictWind.com 2014Mariners Museum 660x82

Related Articles

An interview with Ray Redniss about the STC’s annual Block Island Race
I caught up with Ray Redniss, the Block Island Race’s longtime PRO, via email to learn more about this classic event. I caught up with Ray Redniss, who has served as the PRO for the Block Island Race and the Vineyard Race (September 1, 2017) for the past twenty-plus years, via email to learn more about the state of this classic, early season New England event.
Posted on 22 May
An Q&A with Jeremy Pochman about 11th Hour Racing’s impressive efforts
I interviewed Jeremy Pochman of 11th Hour Racing to learn more about this forward-thinking environmental non-profit. 11th Hour Racing is doing some of the most forward-leaning environmental work in the entire marine sphere, and I wanted to learn more, so I reached out to Jeremy Pochman, 11th Hour Racing’s Strategic Director and Co-founder, to ask a few questions. All sailors are strongly encouraged to give this interview the time it deserves.
Posted on 15 May
A Q&A with Don Adams about Sail Canada’s plan to win Olympic medals
I caught up with Sail Canada CEO Don Adams to hear about Team Canada’s High Performance Plan for winning Olympic medals. Sail Canada, Canada’s national sailing authority, is implementing a new High Performance Plan with the aim of improving on their recent Olympic sailing performances. I caught up with Don Adams, CEO of Sail Canada, to learn more about this ambition plan for helping Canadian sailors win Olympic medals while also helping to inspire younger generations to pursue the Olympic-sailing dream.
Posted on 8 May
America's Cup - Southern Spars AC50 build for Emirates Team NZ + Video
The Peter Blake skippered Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map 27 years after Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map with her unequalled clean sweep of the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race, Southern Spars were called on to build Emirates Team NZ's America's Cup Challenger. Here's a look behind the scenes at the composite engineering process Southern Spars employ on projects ranging from Volvo OR spars, to Olympic bike wheels to an AC50
Posted on 1 May
She’s still here with us, and now we can be there for her
Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Yet it is what lies behind that which could be her most incredible characteristic. Sometimes you can almost overlook her steely determination, but not for long when you start talking with her. Catching up with her live from Cape Town surely was a vivid reminder of not only what this sailor can accomplish
Posted on 24 Apr
Gladwell's Line - Timeout in Bermuda and a decision OTUSA will regret?
With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath from what has been a hectic couple of months, both in Auckland and Bermuda. The third major Practice Session has concluded in Bermuda. This was conducted almost entirely if winds of around 16-25kts - starting to get close to the top end of the range for the AC50's.
Posted on 20 Apr
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on hitting the AC50's sound barrier
These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. The big difference between the AC72, the America's Cup Class, used in the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco and the smaller AC50 to be sailed in Bermuda, lies in their light and medium air performance. 'These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. In 7-8-9-10 knots of breeze, you are sailing at 30kts at times.
Posted on 18 Apr
America's Cup - Bernasconi on expected winning factors in Bermuda
ETNZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie Emirates Team NZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie once the six teams entered in the 35th America's Cup. 'We have had a great run', he says. 'We've had a few hiccups along the way, as always. But the boat is going really well. We are getting through manoeuvres very well. And we think our straight line speed is good.'
Posted on 18 Apr
A Q&A with Nicole Breault about women’s match racing in the USA
I caught up with Nicole Breault to learn more about women’s match racing in the USA and about her upcoming Clinegatta. I caught up with Nicole Breault to learn more about the state of women’s match racing in the USA, and to also hear more about her upcoming Clinegatta, which is set to unfurl on the waters of San Francisco Bay this July, and which could be a great resource for other talented female match racers who are looking to sharpen their skills.
Posted on 17 Apr
America's Cup - Team NZ return fire at Coutts' social media bullets
Emirates Team New Zealand have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers Emirates Team NZ have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers in a media release on Thursday (NZT) over the team's daggerboard use. In the release, replayed by America's Cup Events Authority and Oracle Team USA CEO Sir Russell Coutts on his Facebook page. It was claimed that the Kiwi team had an issue with daggerboards and were using a rule they had not supported to keep sailing
Posted on 2 Apr