We have been taking you around the world with the Volvo Ocean Race – from challenges to celebrations, high waves to high winds. After coming in first on the Miami to Lisbon route of Leg 7, Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is currently resting before Leg 8 begins later this week. While we wait for them to start the next leg we thought we would share some background on the Race. As with anything rooted in craftsmanship, skill, and technology, there have been significant advancements since its inception in 1973.
Materials used in boat construction have progressed since the Whitbread began
Another example of how the construction process has evolved
Founded and sponsored by Colonel Bill Whitbread, the Race began as the Whitbread Round the World Race. Its first iteration included seventeen teams and four legs. One of the boatshad been built over 40 years earlier in 1936 and another was still being completed as the 27,500 nautical mile long race began. Not all of the crews on the inaugural event were professionals – many were “adventure driven novices” working under the stewardship of very experienced skippers.
Equipment and technology may have changed but the conditions at sea have not
Whitbread and VOR crews alike face perilous yet breathtaking conditions
It is fascinating to imagine how with those circumstances the participating teams would have fared in the Southern Ocean conditions faced by this year’s boats. The enormous waves and 30 knot winds that forced the Azzam to undergo emergency repairs would have had a much different impact on the craft sailing in 1973. In stark contrast this year’s Volvo Ocean Race hosts all professional crews with boats constructed of the most modern and advanced materials. Carbon and titanium are used to ensure the craft is both strong and lightweight – withstanding rough seas while making the most of strong winds.
A state of the art Azzam facing some rough seas
The evolution of materials and technology used on the boats is similar to the evolution in crafting our IWC watches. When the IWC Yacht Club Automatic was first presented in 1967 it included a spring-suspension to help withstand shocks and could be submerged to a depth of 10 bar.
Today’s Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph, incorporating evolution of technology & material
Jump forward 33 years to 2000 when the Portuguese Automatic was introduced with a newly developed movement for increased precision, as well as a 7 day reserve. This movement had been five years in the making – and as with material changes in the VOR boats, represented a huge leap in technology and functionality for the timepiece.
Seen here in front of the pack, Azzam is another example of technical evolution
History and heritage abound whether on the high seas or in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. The quest for excellence and precision never wavers, regardless of the craft or pursuit. We send our wishes to the crew from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing as they prepare to board the state of the art Azzam for Leg 8.