Reigning Volvo Ocean Race winner Ian Walker, who skippered Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to win the 2014-15 edition, analyses for Yachting World the form guide to see who among the seven teams is in the running for the 2017-2018 edition.
There are three distinct divisions in the fleet. For a potential winner, I’d pick Dongfeng or Mapfre as they are the best trained and bring experience from the last race; they also performed well on Leg Zero. Of the two, Mapfre probably has the stronger personnel.
Behind them you have Brunel, with some good people and a lot of experience in Bouwe Bekking and Capey [navigator, Andrew Cape] but they haven’t done much training. Then there’s AkzoNobel which seem to have been pretty disorganised for the past year. That said, they have Jules Salter navigating, and [three-time winner] Brad Jackson, so they’ll compete.
Then you have Vestas, who are under-resourced and under-trained, but they have good sailors like SiFi [Simon Fisher, Walker’s race-winning navigator from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing], Phil Harmer, Nick Dana, Charlie Enright. Then you have Turn the Tide on Plastic and Scallywag, who are both very late, with little experience. These new teams may struggle.
If you list the teams in order of how much training they have done, you won’t be far wrong. That logic has been borne out in Leg Zero. The real question is: can the teams that are behind learn quickly enough to close the gap in time to affect the overall race result? If you look at the last race, Abu Dhabi and Dongfeng were ahead and Mapfre improved and caught up, but not quite soon enough.
For a complete breakdown of each team… click here.
The Volvo Ocean Race will start from Alicante, Spain on October 22. The Alicante Race Village is scheduled to open at 1800 local time on October 11, 2017, with the In-Port Race on Saturday, October 14.
2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
• Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
• Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
• MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
• Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
• Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
• Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
• Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)
Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.