When it comes to sailing races and sporting challenges, very little compares with the Volvo Ocean Race. And that challenge is wholly passed on in the requirements the race organisers place on the rig suppliers to the current VO65 fleet, Southern Spars.
Pictured left: Dongfeng was first afloat of this year’s Volvo fleet and remains one of the main favourites to win an event that she threatened to take on the team’s debut three years ago. But on Leg Zero Dongfeng faced serious challenge from Spain’s Mapfre – also a repeat race entry. Mapfre, however, has flattered to deceive before in this event – is this the race in which that all changes?
The Kiwi sparmaker – whose reputation for getting things right first time was recently added to with their build of Team New Zealand’s winning America’s Cup catamaran – had a dream start in the round the world event that was then known as The Whitbread. Peter Blake’s Steinlager 2 sported twin rigs that were the first ever produced by Southern Spars for a round the world race competitor. Blake’s effort that year would go down as the most dominant ever in round the world racing when ‘Big Red’ went on to win every leg – a feat unmatched before or since.
Then things took off.