outsider views

I couldn’t resist jumping in and responding to Brian Hancock’s ‘reinforcement’ of Magnus Weakly’s thoughts on the Volvo. I should start by saying I am writing this in the VOR Gothenburg Stopover Media Centre and try as I might – and I looked –  I couldn’t find either of them anywhere.
The boats arrived at the dock last night and there were still a couple of hundred (die hard?) fans cheering the boats as they reversed into the pontoon and this morning the village is busy and, yep, just checked my calendar it is indeed a weekday/workday here in Gothenburg.
Sure the race does not have the same number of entries that it had back in the days when it was a sextant and paper chart adventure rather than a GPS, expedition and GRIB file professional race but time changes, opportunities come and go and the world evolves.

Back in 1973 there was no alternative to sail round the world. Now there is the Clipper Round the World Race and the World Rally for Cruisers. Had they existed during the early editions of the Whitbread would we have seen the high numbers of the earlier races. It is also noticeable that the VOR numbers started to tail off in the few years after the launch of Clipper and with the world rally anyone who wants to go round the world is well catered for.
In fact by the time of the ‘birth’ of Clipper the race was already a fully sponsored event and the race has not been in double figures in terms of entries this century. I do not understand what problem Mr. Hancock or Wheatley have with the race, perhaps it is because they have not been invited to the party or people don’t stand around listening to them with bated breath.
In his latest piece he calls the boats “boring dinosaurs”. That would be the same boring dinosaurs that have recently been able to average 25 knots for 24 hours. I just wonder how many sailors have been able to do 25 knots at any time never mind for a whole day.
And regarding excitement about team names? Well judging by the way the souvenir clothing has been flying out of the Musto store plenty people appear to want to be associated with the race and teams, whatever they are called.
The One Design decision was initially to control costs but also to ensure boats were designed to a scantling that they could complete the race on their own bottom with a wonderful spin off some of the closest racing in the events history.
Easy to criticise but I would ask both of them if they actually know of any other fleet capable of producing the closeness of competition, speed capability in deep ocean along with durability in an event that provides such an opportunity, or opportunities for the sponsor. And don’t give me the old nutmeg of Vendee Globe, the competition is not close, almost 40% don’t finish, the foilers all bar one had problems and they have one start, one finish – both in France hence the high percentage of French entries and no intermediate B2B opportunities along the way
And his claim that there is not so much footage of the boats “careening along”. Two points here, firstly I think he must have slow internet or he has been on holiday in the artic as some of the footage coming off the boats has been unsurpassed by ANY deep ocean event. In case he hadn’t noticed the Vendee Globe is a single handed event and the only times there is dramatic footage is if they happen to pass a helicopter capable French Warship. They don’t even have the time to fly a drone.
I also think he means careering along as “careening’ is the act of heeling a boat over to scrape the bottom between tides. Maybe, in a way , that’s what he is trying to do to this event.
I honestly think that any irrelevance regarding this subject is that of Brian Hancock and Markus Wheatley and not the Ocean Race, or whatever it will be called in the future. Markus used to write some pithy probing pieces but has been off the scene for half a decade and Brian last ‘did the Whitbread’ in one of the wetest ocean racers in history, Fasizi, almost 30 years ago.
Whether it can “come back from the dead” as they put it or not? Well on the one hand you have Richard & Johan who are not only very astute and knowledgeable regarding the event, have won it twice and managed 6 teams over the years all of which were a commercial success both for the team and the sponsor or the other hand Markus – who has never done the race and Brian who last did it 30 years ago. Sorry, in the interest of accuracy 29 years ago.
Would Richard & Johan have jumped in if they thought they could not continue the race and help it build? They don’t strike me as risk takers in that way. – SS.