The Ocean Race Changes Course

Sail News

After a few uncertain years waiting to see how the Volvo Ocean Race would be reincarnated as The Ocean Race, the pieces are starting to fall into place. Early decisions, like the addition of IMOCA 60s as the race’s main fleet, surprised many, but by and large, spectators are cautiously optimistic about the new direction for the event. With the announcement of the stopover cities and schedule, we have a better idea how exactly things are going to look. But once again, it’s raised some eyebrows.

The good news is a number of the recent regular stopovers are back on the roster, including favorites like Cape Town, South Africa and Itajaí, Brazil. Newport, Rhode Island, will once again be host to the American stopover. Additionally, this race will include a “fly-by” in Germany, presumably to increase the number of opportunities for spectators.

11th Hour Racing is pivoting to the IMOCA 60 fleet after its Volvo 65 campaign in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race

11th Hour Racing is pivoting to the IMOCA 60 fleet after its Volvo 65 campaign in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race

Notably, however, there will be no stops in any countries on the Indian Ocean or in Oceania, making a single monstrously long leg from Cape Town to Itajaí the only Southern Ocean section. “We have added the longest leg in the history of the event—taking the fleet three-quarters of the way around Antarctica,” says race director Phil Lawrence. The Indian Ocean hasn’t been kind to the fleet in recent years (piracy concerns jumbling the course in 2011-12, a grounding in 2014-15, a fatal crash with a fishing boat in 2017-18) so perhaps skipping it entirely is an attempt to avoid myriad dangers. Or perhaps race organizers just want to put a record Southern Ocean leg on the books. Either way, it will likely be a slog for the sailors and strange that such dominant sailing countries like Australia and New Zealand aren’t on the schedule.

“The updated course and schedule for The Ocean Race provides an intense six-months of racing around the world and will challenge the best sailors and teams in a way that only The Ocean Race can do,” Lawrence says. Whether these changes shake out to be better, worse or just different remains to be seen but—like remembering to drop “Volvo” from the title—it’ll take some getting used to.

Schedule

Alicante, Spain – Leg 1 start: January 15, 2023

Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22; Leg 2 start: January 25

Cape Town, South Africa – ETA: February 9; Leg 3 start: February 26/27 (TBC)

Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1; Leg 4 start: April 23

Newport, RI, USA – ETA: May 10; Leg 5 start: May 21

Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May 30; Leg 6 start: June 8

Kiel, Germany (Fly-By) – June 9

The Hague, The Netherlands – ETA: June 11; Leg 7 start: June 15

Genova, Italy – The Grand Finale – ETA: June 25, 2023; Final In-Port Race: July 1, 2023

The Ocean Race will get underway early in 2023 after a five-year hiatus. (As a side note, the race is technically being billed as the 2022-2023 edition despite kicking off in January 2023, because of a prologue series planned for the final four months of the year.) For more, visit theoceanrace.com

February 2022

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