2 posts tagged Lisbon
2 posts tagged Lisbon
The final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race is almost here… after almost 9 months sailing around the world, team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is currently resting in the French port at Lorient. Having completed the 8th leg of the race from Lisbon in just over 5 days, the almost 2000 mile route provided challenging conditions for the Azzam and her crew. Skipper Ian Walker relayed his surprise that more boats didn’t break in the rough seas: “We’re coming off waves so hard that bunks are breaking down below from the weight of the people landing in them. So you can imagine the loads on everything else.”
Footage of the storms encountered during Leg 8
With these sorts of conditions in mind, we wanted to share some insight into what life is like on board the Azzam, and what the crew endures over the course of the race. You read about the design and build process of Azzam, and how crew work, rest, and sleep areas are taken into account – measures Walker elaborates on: “…when we are trying to sleep it is a tough time so we have to strap ourselves into our bunks so we don’t get flicked out.”
Conditions at sea faced by the Azzam and crew
Beyond the logistics of how to get sleep, or change clothes on a rocking boat there are the ever changing weather conditions that affect the daily activities of the crew. Crewmember Adil Khalid relates “…your eyes are sore from the blasting of the salt water, you are soaking wet and everyone is bruised and banged around from the constant slamming of the boat.” From his crewmate Anthony Nossiter, the effect of being at sea is that “Everything is wet or damp, and then we change a sail, we bring a whole new world of wet into the boat”.
The crew enjoying a relatively calm dusk at sea
The length of the VOR brings its own set of on-board challenges – “In a shorter Fastnet or Hobart yacht race, if you break something it’s all over. Here, it’s different - so your approach has to be different. You have to take the long view, keep working away, take the knocks and the gains…” (Ian Walker). When describing what it is like manning a boat with a small crew, Nossiter further explained: “…onboard Azzam it is all day and all night for the nine months of the race, plus the workload on theses boats is huge – huge.”
Some of the tough work faced every day during VOR
Despite an ever-changing climate and exhausting amount of work on board, Walker shares: “I have seen this team taken to the extreme, and what I saw was courage, spirit, pride and above all determination.” The Volvo Ocean Race involves “crossing oceans that break supertankers”, so the risk is high. But as Walker says he and Azzam’s crew are all aware of one thing in the challenge: there are “Big risks and huge rewards”.
The Azzam sailing into port at the finish of Leg 8
We at IWC can all relate to the result of putting spirit, pride, and determination into your work – we commend Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing for completing the second to last leg of this race, and look forward to Leg 9 and the spring to Galway.
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.