What is The Ocean Race?

The Ocean Race is often described as the longest and toughest professional sporting event in the world, sailing’s toughest team challenge and one of the sport’s Big Three events, alongside the Olympic Games and America’s Cup.

To truly understand the race, though, it’s better to think of it in a way the athletes who take part will recognise immediately. Put simply, The Ocean Race is an obsession, and many of the world's best sailors have dedicated years, even decades of their lives trying to win it.

Take Sir Peter Blake, who competed in the first edition of what was then the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973-74 and came back again and again until he finally conquered his Everest, securing an overwhelming victory with Steinlager 2 in 1989-90. Only then was he able to fully turn his attention to other projects.

The race sits, just as it always has, at the intersection of human adventure, and world-class competition. Thanks to the work of the Onboard Reporters embedded with every team, fans are given a unique insight into just what it takes to win a race that is relentless in its demands – as teams give everything they have, 24 hours a day, in pursuit of the tiny advantages that can make all the difference.

The race’s concept is simple: it’s a round-the-clock pursuit of competitive edge and the ultimate ocean marathon, pitting the sport’s best sailors against each other across the world’s toughest waters. It’s relentless: the importance of winning, the adventure of life on board, the transformative effect on the sailors — all of these combine to give the race its power and depth.

The last edition of the race was the closest in history, with three teams virtually tied, approaching the finish line. After 126 days of racing spread across 11 legs, the winning margin for Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng Race Team was only 16 minutes. The top three teams were separated by just four points.

A total of 2.5 million people visited the Race Villages during the 2017-18 event, getting a first-hand taste of the action. Millions more followed the action on our digital platforms, television and via the news as the race set new high-marks for international coverage.

Now we enter a new era as the event continues to evolve. Two classes will compete in the 2022-23 edition of the race with the addition of the high-tech, foiling IMOCA 60 class adding a design and technical element. The one-design VO65 fleet will race for The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup over three legs: Leg 1 from Alicante, Spain to Cabo Verde, Leg 6 from Aarhus, Denmark to The Hague in the Netherlands, and Leg 7 from The Hague to Genova, Italy.

Following the success of our ground-breaking and award-winning sustainability efforts in the last race, sustainability will continue to be a core value of the race as we go forward, as we redouble our efforts to restore ocean health and lead, inspire and engage on this critical issue.

The 14th edition of The Ocean Race started from Alicante, Spain on January 15th 2023, and will finish in Genova, the Grand Finale, in Italy early in the summer of 2023. The race visits nine iconic cities around the globe over a six-month period (Alicante, Spain - Cabo Verde - Cape Town, South Africa - Itajaí, Brazil - Newport, RI, USA - Aarhus, Denmark - Kiel Fly-By, Germany - The Hague, the Netherlands - Genova, Italy) and features a leg with the longest racing distance in the 50-year history of the event - a 12,750 nautical mile, one-month marathon from Cape Town, South Africa to Itajaí, Brazil. The IMOCA fleet of mixed crews will pass all three great southern Capes - Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin, Cape Horn - non-stop, for the first time.

How the race is won

Although at its most fundamental level the perfect strategy for  winning The Ocean Race comes down to simply scoring more points than  your competitors, there is much more involved in emerging victorious  from a five-month, 32,000-nautical mile (36,825-mile / 60,000-kilometre)  race around the world.

The Ocean Race uses a high points scoring system with the winning  team on an offshore leg awarded points equal to the number of entries in  the race. Second place gets points equal to the number of entries minus  one – and so on down the finishing order.

However, double points are up for grabs on two of the legs: the  monster 12,750-nautical mile (14,672-mile / 23,613-kilometre) Southern  Ocean passage on Leg 3 from Cape Town, South Africa to Itajaí in Brazil –  the longest in the race’s 50-year history – and the transatlantic  crossing on Leg 5 from US city Newport, Rhode Island to Aarhus in  Denmark.

The points on Leg 3 will be split between the order in which the teams  pass the longitude of 143 degrees east – and their finishing order at  the end of the leg. On Leg 5 the points will be doubled based on the  teams’ finishing order on the 3,500-nautical mile (4,028-mile /  6,482-kilometre) transatlantic crossing.

With the rules dictating that teams which fail to finish a leg shall  receive no points, the crews will need to manage their instinct to push  their boats and themselves flat out with the need to avoid sustaining  damage that might slow them down or even force them to retire.

As well as avoiding damage the sailors need to avoid incurring penalty  points that can be awarded for any transgressions to the race’s rules,  such as entering race imposed exclusion zones, measurement violations,  and anything else deemed to be a breach of the regulations.

The final standings at the end of the race are determined based on the  teams’ total score for all of the legs – less any penalty points. The  team with the highest series score wins with others ranked accordingly.  Ties on overall points are throughout the race broken in favour of the  boat with the highest overall position in the In-Port Series.

In The Ocean Race 2017-18 after racing for eight months around the world  the top three teams were so close on points starting the final leg from  Gothenburg, Sweden to The Hague in the Netherlands that the eventual  winner – China’s Dongfeng Race Team – was not decided until the last few  miles to the finish line.

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3 Months And 24,000 Miles Later, Vendée Globe Competitors Complete Race

Eleanor Beardsley

Eleanor Beardsley

After sailing 24,000 miles nonstop in a nearly three-month journey, competitors in the Vendée Globe — an around-the-world solo yacht race — are expected to finish at a French port on Wednesday.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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The World's Toughest Row ... done!

Pollyanne's adventures, breaking news, an evening with henry cheape: the fastest scot to row the atlantic solo.

Wednesday 26 June 2024

Join Henry at The Byre Theatre in St Andrews – in conversation with esteemed journalist and author, Magnus Linklater – as they talk about his record-breaking challenge that attracted intrigued ‘dot watchers’ from around the world.

The evening will include a Q&A: audience members are encouraged to submit questions for Henry ahead of the event.

world's toughest yacht race

Henry started the World’s Toughest Row – launching on the morning of Wednesday 13th December from La Gomera.

On 31 January 2024 and exactly 49 days 12 hours and 11 minutes (7 weeks) after leaving the Canary Islands, Henry – who had not previously rowed before signing up to this monumental challenge in March 2023 – conquered the Atlantic to become the fastest Scottish solo rower , reaching Antigua and officially completing the World’s Toughest Row .

You can read more via the News section on the website via this link .

world's toughest yacht race

Credit: World’s Toughest Row

We shared content on a near daily basis throughout Henry’s seven weeks at sea – as well as before his departure. It generated a fantastic following from people sharing their love, encouragement and support. The majority of content was shared on Facebook & Instagram. You can click on the links below to discover more.

Facebook   |   Instagram   |   TikTok   |   YouTube

world's toughest yacht race

Henry is raising funds and awareness for three charities that are very close to his heart: you can read more on these via this link .

If you are able, you can donate by clicking on the image below. Thank you.

world's toughest yacht race

One man. One boat. One ocean.

world's toughest yacht race

Henry - the rower

Henry has signed up for this challenge as ‘one up from a marathon’ and is doing so to scratch an itch, as well as raising money and awareness for three charities. It’ll be a test of mental, psychological and physical endurance: crossing 3,000 miles of Atlantic in an open top rowing boat.

world's toughest yacht race

Polly Anne - the boat

PollyAnne is a R25 rowing boat. She was the winning boat in the 2022 Atlantic race. With an onboard watermaker, solar systems, space to store 80 days of food and a small cabin to sleep in, she’ll be Henry’s home for as long as it takes to paddle his way west.

3,000 miles ... east to west

On December 12th 2023, Henry and Polly Anne will set out from San Sebastian De La Gomera with 3,000 miles of open Atlantic ahead of them.

sustainability: our future ...

This challenge is all about highlighting the importance of sustainability … from the food we grow and eat on our farms to the education of others to help and empower them to live sustainable lives.

The three charities being supported by this row are all delivering transformational change in their different worlds: Global Canopy , Sustain and the Nomad Foundation Fund .

world's toughest yacht race

Our Core sponsors

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Our sponsors

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We are hugely grateful to our official sponsors listed above who have decided to back us from the outset – enabling the #PollyAnne23 project to launch.

Their generosity and support has helped to cover our initial costs associated with taking on this extraordinary challenge.

In addition to our sponsors is a growing list of supporters who are helping in so many ways.

We would like to thank them all for their advice, services and support.

A number of these are producers who rose to Henry’s challenge to help him find locally, regeneratively-farmed wholesome food that will help him power Polly Anne on his 3,000 mile solo row.

They include…

  • Destination66
  • Creative Storm Ltd
  • Callysnapper
  • AH & Co Ltd
  • Donaldson & Son Joiners & Contractors
  • Beyond Endurance

Producers helping to power Polly Anne …

  • Your Piece Bakery
  • Scottish Honeyberries
  • Great Glen Charcuterie
  • Mackies of Scotland
  • East Coast Cured
  • Johnston’s Handmade Tablet  
  • Allan’s Chilli Products
  • Nevis Bakery
  • Tony Chocolonely

Pledge Sports

world's toughest yacht race

The most extreme ocean sailing races

world's toughest yacht race

BWCB17 Amer Sports Too in tough conditions off Cape of Good Hope, South Africa during Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race, 2001-2002. Photo Credit – Yachting World

Sailing, like running, motorsport or cycling also has its extreme versions, but if anything even more extreme.  While the Tour de France may cover 3,470km — or 2,156 miles,some sailing races cover 40,000 nautical miles!

But it’s not just the distance covered, it’s the unexpected.  When dealing with mother nature on the high seas, you have to be prepared for anything.

Golden Globe Race

There is no other sailing race that can compete with the Golden Globe in terms of extremity, it has to be one of the toughest human endeavours ever.

The race was first held in 1968, it would be the first ever attempt to sail solo non-stop around the world.  At the time, the only great feat left on the oceans was to become the first to sail solo nonstop around the world.  No one even knew if a boat could survive 30,000 miles at sea without stopping, or sinking.  9 sailors entered the race but only one –  Robin Knox-Johnston competed the race.

The Golden Globe wasn’t held again until 1st July 2018 and started from from Les Sables-d’Olonne, France.   It featured yachts similar to those used at that time. Except for safety equipment, no modern technology was allowed and boats were required to be similar to Knox-Johnston’s Suhaili —a single hull between 32 and 36 feet—and be designed before 1988.  skippers to navigate with paper charts and sextants, forecast weather themselves, and communicate by radio only.

18 entrants from 13 different countries entered the race and only 5 completed it, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede won in 212 days.  The next Golden Globe will take place on 4th September 2022.

The most extreme motor races in the world

The Vendée Globe

The Vendée Globe is a single-handed non-stop round the world yacht race. The Vendée Globe is considered an extreme quest of individual endurance and the ultimate test in ocean racing.

The race was founded by Philippe Jeantot in 1989, and since 1992 has taken place every four years.  It is named after the Département of Vendée, in France, where the race starts and ends.  Unlike the Golden Globe, the Vendee Globe allows entrants to use all the modern technology.

French man Armel Le Cléac’h is the last winner a record holder, completing the Vendee in 74 days in 2017.

The 8 most extreme footraces on earth

Volvo Ocean Race

The legendary Ocean race is held every three or four years since 1973 and circumnavigates the globe, last years winner completed it in 146 days.

Though the route changes to accommodate various ports of call, the race typically departs Europe in October, and in recent editions has had either 9 or 10 legs, with in-port races at many of the stopover cities. Each of the entries has a sailing crew who race day and night for more than 20 days at a time on some of the legs

Like the clipper race below, the Ocean race travels through some of the most dangerous seas in the world, like the Southern Ocean where conditions are notorious.  The last race finished in 2018 and the next will be in 2022 starting in Alicante in Spain and finishing in Genoa in Italy.

The most extreme sports in the world

The Clipper Race

According to their website, “The Clipper Race is one of the biggest challenges of the natural world and an endurance test like no other”.

With no previous sailing experience necessary, it’s a record breaking 40,000 nautical mile race around the world on a 70-foot ocean racing yacht.

The brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world, the event is now in its twelfth edition.  The last race started from London on 1st September 2019 and finished in August 2020.

Divided into eight legs and between 13 and 16 individual races, you can choose to complete the full circumnavigation or select individual legs. It is the only race in the world where the organisers supply a fleet of eleven identical racing yachts, each with a fully qualified skipper and first mate to safely guide the crew.

The Ultimate Endurance Sports

The Kraken Cup

world's toughest yacht race

Photo Credit – Flickr 

Walker is describing the Kraken Cup, formerly known as the Ngalawa Cup, a unique adventure sailing race held off east Africa in the traditional Tanzanian fishing boats called Ngalawa.

The premise of the race is simple, but punishing. Teams of three charter a Ngalawa and race it over seven days and multiple stopovers for about 180 miles across the Zanzibar archipelago, pitching camp at each stop. Crews are banned from sailing past nightfall, but the days are long. At the end of each day’s racing the crews drag their boats up the beach and sleep on the sand or in a hammock slung wherever they can find.

The Kraken Cup is now in its sixth year and in 2019 had grown to an impressive 23 entries. It is billed as: ‘Possibly the most ridiculous ocean race in the world.’

Central to the race are the Ngalawas, which are quite unlike any boat that any participants will ever have sailed before.  They make this race extremely tough!

The most extreme cycling races

worldstoughestrow.com

The PR, on the water coverage and media visibility, has never been better and along with our partners, we aim to make sure the race continues to expand worldwide.

The team behind Atlantic Campaigns bring an unparalleled level of support, knowledge and experience, with a combined total of over 50 years of ocean rowing experience both on and off the water.

world's toughest yacht race

Carsten Heron Olsen

Ceo & race director.

Has been involved in ocean rowing since 2008 and since taking ownership of the race has driven it forward making it more accessible, professional and has created the most successful, premier ocean rowing event in the world. Carsten’s Danish attention to detail amplifies through the race’s organisational structure meaning that the team behind the World’s Toughest Row strive to deliver to the highest standards as shown by the Race Director.

world's toughest yacht race

Nikki Holter

Event manager.

Is based in the UK and has been involved in ocean rowing for over 16 years. Nikki assists the rowers from the day they enquire, to the day they leave La Gomera, as well as their families throughout the  ocean row. A constant source of advice and guidance from sign up to the race finish and beyond.

world's toughest yacht race

Head Safety Officer

Has been involved in ocean rowing for 16 years and has completed two rows across the Atlantic and one across the Indian Ocean gaining 5 World Records in the process. He has developed the Ocean Rowing Training Course recognized by the Spanish Authorities and is responsible for the continued development of the safety of the crews in the race. He will check the crews in La Gomera and be in communications with them throughout the race.

world's toughest yacht race

Fraser Mowlem

Safety officer & race admin.

An experienced trainer with considerable technical expertise Fraser had a successful row as a crew member on Row4Victory in 2018. Fraser is part of the Safety Team in La Gomera as well as the second on-call Duty Officer whilst the crews are at sea. He will coordinate the Pre-Shipping Inspections as well as deliver the Ocean Rowing Course.

world's toughest yacht race

Kevinia Francis

Finish officer.

After completing World’s Toughest Row as part of ‘Team Antigua – The Island Girls in the 2018/2019 race, Kevinia and her team mates made sure every crew from there on in the following races were welcomed into Antigua with the warmest of welcomes! Due to this we are very fortunate to have Kevinia our as Finish Officer ensuring that when all crews cross the finish line, they are inspected and processed through customs with efficiency and the best Antiguan welcome!

world's toughest yacht race

Evan Stratton

Safety officer.

Evan served in the United States Marine Corps for 8 years, in active and reserve duty capacities from 2007 – 2015. He deployed in support of OIF in 2009, and to UNITAS in 2011. His Awards include a Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, and Navy Achievement Medal. Evan has stayed involved in the Veteran community through participation in the Warrior Games, and Invictus Games competing in track and swimming. In 2019 he was selected to the Fight Oar Die rowing team, completing the World’s Toughest Row in 50 days, 11 hours, and 35 minutes setting a boat class world record.

world's toughest yacht race

Manfred Tennstadt

Operations manager.

Joined the Atlantic Campaigns team in 2015 as the Support Yacht skipper of Skye. Manfred also heads up the Operations team in La Gomera ensuring all logistics, boat movements and local communications are efficient and smooth.

world's toughest yacht race

William Heron Kjellström

Design & media.

William’s upbringing has been steeped in the organization of ocean rowing events, shaping his expertise from a young age. Now, he stands at the forefront of the design aspects of the World’s Toughest Row. Beyond his design responsibilities, William serves as a valued member of the media team.

world's toughest yacht race

Thor Munch-Anderson

Race doctor.

Is a Danish medical doctor and orthopaedic trauma surgeon. In addition, he holds a master degree and PhD in sports and exercise science and nutrition. For the last 15 years he has been involved with high altitude, arctic, dessert and endurance expeditions and research projects. For the last six years Thor has been the race doctor and also skippered one of the support yachts for five years.

world's toughest yacht race

Rasmus Wolf Møller

Operations & web admin.

Joined the Atlantic Campaigns team in 2019 and has been a key member of the Operations Team since, delivering unwaivering support with all boat moving, branding, media and general logistics during the pre race period and in Antigua. Between races, Website Administrator.

world's toughest yacht race

Nito Cubas Padilla

Lives in La Gomera and is the man on the ground making sure everything looks good and is ready for when our rowers arrive. Nito handles the unloading of all vessels when they arrive in La Gomera, coordinates logistics and liaises with relevant parties through the year.

world's toughest yacht race

Andreas Galsgaard

Operations & finish videographer.

Andreas has been providing general race assistance and fantastic content for the race since 2018. Being part of the operations team in the pre race period and the media team in the post race period in Antigua, Andreas positive ‘can-do’ attitude is a huge asset to the AC team!

world's toughest yacht race

Travis Weste

Having been part of the AC arrival’s team in Antigua for many years, Travis has not only completed World’s Toughest Row in 2020, winning the Pairs Race Class with his rowing partner Jojo Nunes, but he has also been on SY Suntiki supporting the fleet of World’s Toughest Row 2021. Travis has been part of the race from many angles and now continues in the role of Safety Officer bringing a huge wealth of first-hand  knowledge and support.

world's toughest yacht race

Race Photographer

Is a highly qualified & importantly experienced photographer with a unique view through her lense. After supporting Atlantic Discovery (as the 5th non rowing crew member, photographer, logistics manager and consistent smile bringer) we are incredibly pleased to have Penny on the AC team to continue bringing light and feeling into every image she produces.

world's toughest yacht race

Robin Skjoldborg

See’s faces and portraits in such a way that you can almost feel the lines. After being a crew member on S/Y Suntiki for World’s Toughest Row 2018, Robin captured some of the most incredible images ever taken of our rowers at sea, and then went on to capture the many of the ‘just stepped on land’ portraits.

world's toughest yacht race

Lars Kristiansen

Lars joined the race in 2019 crossing the Atlantic Ocean on our Safety Yacht. After that, Lars has been a very big part of the AC team, every year since.

world's toughest yacht race

Gemma Sargent

Race retail.

First joined World’s Toughest Row in 2015 as part of the crew for S/Y Skye and has been part of the AC team ever since. Gemma now runs the World’s Toughest Row merchandise shop in both La Gomera and Antigua.

world's toughest yacht race

Manuel Falcon Ruiz

Support yacht crew.

Manu was born and raised in the Canary Islands and crossed the Atlantic for the first time last year as a crew member on the support Yacht Suntiki. And he is looking forward to crossing again this year!

world's toughest yacht race

Christian Kirkeby

Race videographer.

Christian is the creative talent behind all of the sharp and incredibly talented videos that you see on our social media channels. Christian’s editing ability and musical ear is completely unique and now intrinsic to the public vision that is the World’s Toughest Row.

world's toughest yacht race

Charlotte Drew

Live reporter.

Has been delivering video and photos from the finish line of her home island Antigua for many years. Charlotte has provided our teams family, friends and ‘Dot Watchers’ with an inside view of the race, reported from the pre race period, the incredible start and every single finish live on Facebook and YouTube, to thousands of people.

Staff & Consultants

We work alongside the best worldwide advisors in the ocean rowing industry and strive to constantly provide excellent service and an unforgettable experience that will ultimately make your dreams become a reality. Our goal and main focus is to keep the World’s Toughest Row as the best organised ocean rowing event in the world.

world's toughest yacht race

Our partners

It is incredibly important to us that the partners we work with reflect the ethos of our races, our participants and our principles as a business. As such this means that by choosing to work alongside our partners, our teams are in turn guaranteed expertise, high quality product and service as well as beneficial rates on purchases. Our partners are dedicated specialists within their field, ensuring that product and knowledge delivery is a step towards success.

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Tim Moynihan

Grueling 39K-Mile Yacht Race Tests the Sanity of Cramped Crews

Image may contain Vehicle Transportation Boat Watercraft Vessel and Sailboat

The idea of sailing around the world seems a bit iffy, even on a huge luxury liner with hot meals, cold alcohol, ample shuffleboard, and a decent bed. The idea turns horrific when you’re talking about doing it on a 65-foot sailing yacht with no fresh food, no shower, a narrow net of a bed, one change of clothes, and a single “toilet” the size and shape of a mixing bowl.

(P.S. You need to share that micro-toilet with seven other people.)

This is what the members of Team Alvimedica have signed up for. Led by skipper Charlie Enright and general manager Mark Towill, they’ll make up one of six competing teams in the Volvo Ocean Race, widely considered the toughest sailing race in the world.

The 2014-15 edition of the race, which takes place every three years, will cover 39,000 miles, hit six continents, and run from October to June. This is the first time it will be a “one-design” race: All entrants must use a specially designed boat—the $6 million Volvo 65—with the same exact specifications. The new carbon-fiber boats, designed by Farr Yacht Design in Annapolis, Md. specifically for the next two Volvo Ocean Races and assembled in different spots around the world, are strong and sturdy.

The idea is that giving everyone the same boat will keep teams from sacrificing safety features at the expense of speed. That’s not an idle worry: The race has claimed the lives of five sailors in its 41-year history. That doesn’t mean the boats are slow. With two sails, the 65-foot long craft can hit 30 knots (34.5 mph).

The identical boats will emphasize sailing skills, which could make this year’s race more competitive than ever. Teams will be evenly matched off the starting line. Once on the water, they monitor the weather to determine the exact route they want to take and which sails to use (Team Alvimedica will bring seven options to choose from). Depending on their choices, the boats may end up close together for some of the legs.

Each of the Volvo Ocean Race’s nine legs is treated as an independent race, with points allotted for the top finishers. At each port stop, the boats compete in shorter sprint races. The in-port races are used as tiebreakers if there’s a dead heat in the overall competition.

VolvoOcean6503

The boat may be safer than ever this year, but it offers little in the way of temperature control and sleep-friendliness. The cramped innards house a communications center, a video-editing lab, sleeping quarters (basically hammocks), and the head (a very non-private toilet). Enright says the temperature down there is either “really really hot or really really cold.” Carbon fiber doesn’t exactly dampen noise, so the cramped below-deck quarters pound constantly with the sound of waves hitting the hull.

We checked out Team Alvimedica’s boat on a gorgeous 80-degree day in New York City. It was a scorching, claustrophobic slice of hell. A tiny electric fan mounted to the right of the boat’s navigation center---a couple of ThinkPads with a cable-suspended seat in front—provided a sip of relief. It’s hard to imagine what would help if it were cold. There is no fireplace.

Each stage of the race is its own unique flavor of nightmare, from typhoons off the southern coast of China, dodging steamships in Malaysia, pirates near Somalia, to a combination of massive waves, powerful winds, and gigantic icebergs in the southernmost stretch of the competition. The first leg will take the teams from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa---a 6,487-mile jaunt that will last more than three weeks. The teams will swing so far west after passing through the Strait of Gibraltar, they’ll practically scrape the coast of Brazil. Then they loop back east to Cape Town. It’s not the most-direct route, but it may get them there the fastest thanks to the trade winds. As an added bonus, the route should also steer them clear of potential pirate attacks off the west coast of Africa.

If the competitors can duck and dodge their way through all of that, they’ll still need to make sure they don’t run out of food. That requires careful planning. Too much food will add unwanted weight to the boat. Too little of it would be disastrous during a slower-than-expected leg. During the last Volvo Ocean Race, the American PUMA Ocean Racing team ran out of food a day and a half from port on one leg.

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But no matter how much food they bring, it will not be delicious. It’ll be freeze-dried everything, little packets of blech that won’t replenish the crazy amount of calories each crew burns on board. It’s no shock that the first thing the team will do when they get to each port is eat actual food, “or maybe get a blood test,” says Enright.

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When you’re stuck on a boat for weeks with a small crew, personnel decisions are a big deal. Substitutions are allowed between legs---and boats rarely finish the race with the same crew they had at the start---but while on the water, you’re stuck with whomever you’ve got. So each team builds a roster loaded with specialists who can deal with whatever happens: An electrician, a sailmaker, a medic, maybe a bowman or a strong grinder for the winches. A media specialist will also be on each boat to edit together video, as well as an embedded onboard reporter who’s only allowed to report, cook, and clean. It’ll be all-hands-on-deck, except for that reporter.

If something does go horribly wrong, the teams are on their own for a little while. The sailing yachts won’t be followed by chase boats and they’re often thousands of miles from land. In 2012, the mast of Team PUMA’s boat snapped in three places in the middle of the Southern Atlantic Ocean and ended up on Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island on the planet.

The boats are tracked: Every five minutes, Volvo Ocean Race officials will receive an update of each boat’s location, and the boats are certainly equipped for several forms of communication. A few Inmarsat Sailor satellite antennas are in the back of each boat: A large unit used for beefier transmissions, such as sending video from the boat via satellite. A second, smaller Inmarsat Sailor antenna will be used for less-demanding data delivery: Text messages and e-mails back home. Ordering a pizza probably won’t work.

There will also be five video cameras on board, including a pair mounted to the mast, and they’ll be rolling at all times. Not all the footage will be saved, however. Instead, there will be a buffer of at least 30 minutes so that the ship’s media crew member can review footage in case anything goes wrong, and to have more leeway when editing together montages. The mast-mounted cameras are controlled from below the deck, with a panel that can swap cameras, operate the zoom on each of them, and move them around. There’s also a Panasonic Toughpad the team can use on deck to see what’s happening, and remotely control the navigation system below.

According to Enright, the yachts were practically designed around one of the many cameras, a live-stream-capable module above the hatch that’s also equipped with a microphone for chatting. There won’t be a live-stream from the boat’s cameras, so you’re out of luck if you want to follow along with them for nine months straight. But you can follow them with an online map, and the media crew member will be editing videos aboard the ship and sending produced packages to TV stations via satellite.

The toughest part of the race will likely be the fifth and longest leg---the 6,776-mile, iceberg-infested stretch in the Southern Ocean from New Zealand to Brazil. “There, it’s not about going fast, it’s about controlling the crew and the boat,” says Enright, who anticipates filling the boat’s ballast tanks during that leg to slow the boat down and keep it more manageable. “To finish first, you must first finish.”

The prize for finishing first? Zero dollars. Each boat’s crew members are professional sailors who will be paid by their teams, but there’s no jackpot at the end of this grueling race.

The trophies aren’t too bad, though.

world's toughest yacht race

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Team Spirit: Life and Leadership on One of the World's Toughest Yacht Races

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Brendan Hall

Team Spirit: Life and Leadership on One of the World's Toughest Yacht Races Paperback – August 29, 2013

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  • Print length 256 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Adlard Coles
  • Publication date August 29, 2013
  • Dimensions 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • ISBN-10 140818799X
  • ISBN-13 978-1408187999
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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Adlard Coles; Reprint edition (August 29, 2013)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 140818799X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1408187999
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 7.3 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • #1,627 in Sailing (Books)
  • #1,867 in Boating (Books)

About the author

Brendan hall.

Brendan Hall is a truly inspirational man. A professional yacht racing skipper, author, leadership expert and entrepreneur. In 2009, Brendan skippered a yacht in the ultimate long distance challenge, The Clipper Round the World Yacht race - a 35,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe, contested by amateur crews in identical racing yachts.

Although Brendan was the youngest and least experienced skipper in the race, he and his team won it in convincing fashion. This achievement was the culmination of years of leadership research, creating a high-performance culture and a leadership style way beyond his 27 years.

His leadership skills were soon put to the test - in the middle of a North Pacific winter hurricane, Brendan and his crew were tasked with the rescue of an incapacitated skipper on a competing yacht. Brendan swapped yachts and skippered both vessels 4000 nautical miles, across the world’s most treacherous ocean to safety.

After completing this life changing challenge, Brendan authored, Team Spirit, a raw, insightful look into the life of a leader pushing himself and his team to perform in extreme conditions. It distils and communicates the core skills and hard-won lessons that made Brendan’s team a winning one and has had an outstanding reception from the business world, where leaders and teams face comparable challenges in their own environment.

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world's toughest yacht race

Omega Watches Take On The World’s Toughest Yacht Race

Omega watches take on on the toughest yacht race in the world..

Tough is the only word to describe the sailors and race boats that took part in the Volvo Ocean Race that concluded earlier this summer. The sailors are tough. The boats are tough. And as I learned firsthand during the race’s stopover in Newport, Rhode Island, Omega’s partnership with this brutally beautiful race around the world runs deep. In fact, this iconic Swiss brand created the world’s first commercially available divers watch in 1932, and Omega’s have been worn by Jacques Cousteau (and James Bond and Cindy Crawford too).

But when it comes to harsh conditions, the fact that Omega’s have been worn by astronauts on all six lunar landings may been the most appropriate comparison to the harsh conditions that Omega ambassadors—Peter Burling and Blair Tuke—experience during the Volvo Ocean Race.

Last year, Burling and Tuke won the America’s Cup as crewmates aboard Emirates Team Zealand. This year they’ve raced on opposing teams (Burling for Team Brunel and Tuke for Team Mapfre) in this much more extreme ocean endurance race. And of course, they wear Omega’s Volvo Ocean Race Deep Black GMT Seamasters offshore. You could say they are the ideal ambassadors for a company that wants to demonstrate how tough a high-quality Swiss watch can be. And that makes for good marketing when it came time to announce one of their newest models—the Volvo Ocean Race Deep Black Chronograph Limited Edition—would be available once the race concluded. The commemorative timepiece is a divers’ chronograph, but its robust design is just as capable of withstanding the extreme pressures of ocean sailing. And since original event first began in 1973, only 73 versions of this watch have been created.

The casebody has been crafted from a single block of ceramic. It’s water resistant to 2000 feet and is driven by the Omega Master Chronometer calibre 9900. Omega also created an oriented caseback through its Naiad Lock system so that the wording and official “Volvo Ocean Race” logo always sit in the correct position. There’ll never be a shortage of watch brands that want to associate themselves world’s most glamorous yachting events. But the cool thing about the Volvo Ocean Race Deep Black Chronograph Limited Edition is that the connection seems to be way more than just marketing.

But then again, the Volvo Ocean Race is way more than just marketing too. Both Burling’s Team Brunel and Tuke’s Team Mapfre were neck and neck for the overall victory after 9 months of racing. It doesn’t get any better than that.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT omega.com

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54-knot winds severely deplete 2024 Round the Island Race fleet

Helen Fretter

  • Helen Fretter
  • June 15, 2024

Extreme conditions severely depleted the fleet of the 2024 Round the Island Race, with hundreds of boats opting not to compete or retiring in 50-knot winds

world's toughest yacht race

Competitors in today’s 2024 Round the Island Race , an annual 50-mile circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight, faced one of the most severe conditions in years with gusts of over 50 knots recorded at The Needles, the westernmost point of the course.

The Round the Island Race traditionally attracts one of the largest fleets of any yacht race, and this year saw 939 boats originally entered.

However, today’s extreme conditions have severely depleted both the number of starters and finishers, and just 153 yachts completed the race with 418 retiring.

First to complete the course was Irvine Laidlaw’s Gunboat 80 Highland Fling , which posted an impressive elapsed time of 3h 39m 5s.

world's toughest yacht race

The Gunboat 80 Highland Fling was first multihull in the 2024 Round the Island Race Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

Owner Irvine Laidlaw said: “It was the first event for us in 2024 and we’ve travelled over 3,000 miles from Palma to be here but it’s worth it! I thoroughly enjoyed the race – I like the fact we go around an island with the start and finish in the same place, it’s rather satisfying.”

Boat captain Xavier Mecoy added: “[The] Boat is only a year old and it’s the first time we’ve sailed her in a big breeze, we’ve never had 2 reefs in the main before, so that was pretty exciting and we spent quite a bit of time sailing bare-headed as it was safer. 

“We were charging around the course doing 30 knots of boat speed at times.”

First monohull around was the Cowes based TP52 Notorious , owned by Peter Morton, who finished more than 40 minutes ahead of the nearest monohull yacht in 4h 21m 20s.

Notorious also finished 1st overall in IRC on correcrted time, winning the coveted Gold Roman Bowl.

Peter Morton, owner and skipper of Notorious, said: “I’ve not had the boat that long but I’ve competed in Round the Island Race many times over the last 50 years in various boats I’ve owned.

“It’s one of the most famous yacht races in the World and we went out to try and win. It’s 40 years ago since I won it on a little 25ft boat called Odd Job , so today was very special for me.”

world's toughest yacht race

Peter Morton’s TP52 Notorious took monohull line honours and 1st overall under IRC in the severe conditions of the 2024 Round the Island Race Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

54 knots at the Needles

Despite a deceptively sunny start as the first fleets set off from the Royal Yacht Squadron at 0600, conditions quickly deteriorated to become even more extreme than many forecasts had suggested. The Needles Battery wind station (above the famous rock formation) recorded gusts of 54 knots from 0700 and a steady wind of 39-45 knots from the south-west. Competitors reported 35-40 knots going through Hurst Narrows.

This led to a severe sea state on the south of the island which saw many boats which had started choosing to turn back before the Needles. Fewer than 100 boats in the IRC and ISCRS fleets (the majority of monohulls) were recorded as rounding the Needles. 

Many of those retiring have reported sail damage, particularly torn mainsails. There was a collision off Yarmouth, and at least one man overboard incident, which was recovered swiftly. However, organisers report that there were just nine other incidents – fewer than in previous years. Local RNLI and Independent Lifeboat crews were on the water across the Solent and on the south of the island supporting the fleet throughout the day.

David Rolfe, skipper of the Sigma 33 Shadowfax was one boat whose race ended by the Needles. Shadowfax  was welcoming her new part owners aboard for their very first race on the boat.

“We started with a reef and our Number 2 [jib],” explained Rolfe. “It was, I would say deceptively – not calm, but quieter than forecast. When we came off the line, and if anything, it then dropped a little bit. As we headed down the Solent we even had a little bit of a talk about how we might set the spinnaker lines for when we’re on the south side of the island.

“Then a weather band that came in, a whole load of rain squalls, and that just changed mode completely. Suddenly we were in full on, probably 30-odd knots, gusting high 30s. It was a bit on and off through those squalls, some heavy rain, maybe even a little bit of hail in amongst it.

“The sea state was a bit rough, but not crazy. And then as we got towards Hurst, it went up another level. We could see it coming down the track towards us, and a few boats were really on their ear. One boat was definitely 45 degrees or more over, out of control, just pushed on its side by the wind. So we were battened down and gearing up for that.

“Then we got pushed right on our ear. We’d trimmed the main out. We’re trying to control it, but we were right on our side and going slowly, and almost sideways! I don’t know the wind strength, probably gusting into the 40s. And the sea was getting bigger and rougher with wind over tide really driving it pretty hard. So we decided we needed to go for a second reef, put that in. And after putting that in [we] tacked off to go into the full [tidal] stream through Hurst.

“That’s when we saw, unfortunately, we’d ripped our main, probably as we were reefing it. That was the end of the race for us. We bore away and hurtled back, surfing down these waves on our way back to Cowes.”

world's toughest yacht race

The Needles recorded winds of 54 knots as the 2024 Round the Island Race fleet passed the landmark. Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

2024 Round the Island fleets cancelled

The race typically attracts a large cohort of family and amateur crews, for many of whom this is the only race they may compete in all year. A building forecast over the preceding week had led many competitors to withdraw ahead of the race. 

The day before, organisers had also announced that eight classes would not start . Racing was cancelled for the Classic Racing Yacht (ISCRS), Diam 2 class, Gaffers under 23ft, J/70s, both divisions of Bridgedeck Multihulls, the smaller Grand Prix and MOCRA Multihulls, and the Sportsboat division.

Race safety officer Mark Southwell said on Friday 14 June, when making the announcement: “We will only cancel fleets where there is a significant chance that the majority of the fleet could get into difficulties and risk injury to the crew, a situation that could quickly overwhelm the support services. 

“For other fleets, with a wide range of crew experience and boat types, it is each skipper’s sole responsibility to evaluate the capability of their crew and the suitability of their boat to handle the expected conditions (including wind and sea state) and make the decision as to whether their boat should take part.”

Race Director, Dave Atkinson said in a statement from the organisers after the race: “This race was a challenge for both the competitors and the Race Team at the Island Sailing Club, with the safety and well-being of the crews being the main priority.”

“We would like to thank the RNLI, independent lifeboats and coastguard teams for their assistance and co-operation before and during the race on Saturday. Despite the challenging conditions we only had nine incidents connected to the race which is less than previous years, this shows the seamanship of the crews and the correct decision making that went into undertaking of the race.”

world's toughest yacht race

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Shelter island’s menantic yacht club is setting sail into 2024.

By Robert Harris

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The Menantic Yacht Club (MYC) is back for another season of fun Sunfish racing and camaraderie.

Our membership has increased over the years, with an average of 25 sailors participating every weekend. There will be one major change this year as the MYC’s long-time Commodore Pete Bethge has retired; he and Sallie are now enjoying life full-time in Florida. The MYC leadership now consists of yours truly as commodore, Steve Shepstone as vice commodore, Melissa Shepstone as treasurer, and Betsy Colby as secretary.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable winter and spring. I know some of our sailors, including Peter Beardsley, Alicia Rojas and Lee Montes, did their share of frostbiting over the winter.

On a sad note, Dave Olsen, a long-time, much-loved member of the MYC passed in December. Dave was a top notch sailor who was more interested in giving a helping hand to anyone in need, on or off the race course, than in finishing first. Dave hand-made a number of the MYC’s most beautiful trophies; some of his handmade trophies reside at the Shelter Island Yacht Club as well.

Dave, with his green helmet and helping hand, will be missed by the entire Shelter Island sailing community, and especially by the MYC.

On Sunday June 23, Vice-Commodore Steve Shepstone will hold a Race Committee “Tune-Up Practice” at 1 p.m. at his home at 5 Wheeler Road. He will review RC duties, including safety procedures, sailing instructions, mark placements and communications. Review will be both on shore and on water. Volunteers and sailors are  invited and should attend. RSVP to Steve Shepstone ( [email protected] ). You will learn about the finer points of conducting sailboat races. Steve is a judge with US Sailing.

Charlie Modica has a special treat in store for everyone this summer — stay tuned.

Betty Bishop and Matt Fox will captain the stake and mark boats, and hopefully our dedicated crew of volunteers will return: Debra Mintz, Amy Cococcia, Dave Daly, Ben Gonzales, Melanie Coronetz, Rita Gates, Ed Goble Elsie Rose, Mike Donlon, Susan Donlon, and all the others who volunteer from time-to-time.

And, of course, Betsy Colby will be race PRO, hopefully assisted by Marion Thomsen, Ed Hydeman and others. Non-sailors from the Shelter Island community are also invited to volunteer. Charlie, as usual, will loan the MYC his inflatable for use as the stake boat, and Jonathan Brush’s powerboat will be used by the Race Committee. Tom NcMahon’s BW will be used also.

Prior to the first race on Sunday, June 30, there will be a skippers’ meeting at our “clubhouse” at Commodore Pete’s Landing, i.e., the North Silver Beach Town landing, starting at 12:30 p.m., with the first horn going off at 2 p.m.

We will all have a chance to catch up with each other after a long winter, and to answer any questions about the upcoming season. If you have not already returned your waivers and membership forms, please bring them. They will also be available at the meeting.

The MYC was started in 1933, continued until the early 1950’s, and then had a hiatus until Commodore Pete reactivated it in 1968. Back in the day, Commodore Pete sailed Cape Cod Rockets; later he switched to Sunfish, which we sail today. In the words of Commodore Pete: “Menantic Yacht Club has a wonderful history of being a welcoming club. We are very proud of our two “C’s — camaraderie and Corinthian sailing.”

The MYC is a family-oriented club, and we would love to have some younger sailors join us. In previous years we have had families sailing together and as teams sharing the same boat.

We are a very congenial club, open to all. We may not have a clubhouse, but the sailing is great, the camaraderie is superb, and we just have tremendous fun. All sailors, novice to expert, are welcome. Just show up in West Neck Harbor at 2 on any Sunday starting on June 30 and going through September 1 the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

Check in with the Race Committee giving them your full name and sail number, and be sure to bring your life jacket. Non-sailors are also welcome to assist with the Race Committee and stake boats. You can get more information about the MYC from our Facebook page: Menantic Yacht Club, or from Bob Harris at [email protected] . Steve and Melissa Shepstone have a fleet of loaner boats available on a first to reserve basis. Contact Ellen Leonforte at 914-450-1450 or at [email protected] to reserve your boat.

The MYC is a Shelter Island tradition. Let’s keep up the tradition, so please join us this summer for some of the best fun you will ever have.

See you on the water.

On a another note: congratulations to Peter Beardsley, Lee Montes, Paul Zinge, Rich Prieto and others on their participation in the Sunfish North American Championships this past weekend. Peter and Lee qualified for the Worlds. No small feat against 105 other competitors.

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    The most extreme motor races in the world. The Vendée Globe. The Vendée Globe is a single-handed non-stop round the world yacht race. The Vendée Globe is considered an extreme quest of individual endurance and the ultimate test in ocean racing. The race was founded by Philippe Jeantot in 1989, and since 1992 has taken place every four years.

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  19. Omega Watches Take On The World's Toughest Yacht Race

    Omega Watches take on on the toughest yacht race in the world. Bill Springer September 17, 2018. Tough is the only word to describe the sailors and race boats that took part in the Volvo Ocean Race that concluded earlier this summer. The sailors are tough. The boats are tough. And as I learned firsthand during the race's stopover in Newport ...

  20. Omega Timepieces Take On The Toughest Yacht Race In The World

    Tough is the only word to describe the sailors and race boats taking part in Volvo Ocean Race (the yacht race around the world currently taking place) that recently concluded its only American ...

  21. 54-knot winds severely deplete 2024 Round the Island Race fleet

    Competitors in today's 2024 Round the Island Race, an annual 50-mile circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight, faced one of the most severe conditions in years with gusts of over 50 knots recorded ...

  22. World's Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji

    World's Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji is a television series documenting a long-range multi-day expedition race in which teams race non-stop with little to no sleep over mountains, jungles, and oceans. The series is a revival of the Eco-Challenge series first broadcast from 1995 to 2002. The race took place in Fiji in September 2019, and the television series documenting the race hosted ...

  23. Isle of Wight team win gold at Round the Island Race 2024

    "It's one of the most famous yacht races in the world, and we went out to try and win. "It's been 40 years since I won it on a little 25ft boat called 'Odd Job', so today was very special for me." ... A huge congratulations to all competitors for managing the tough conditions! Round the Island Race. Sailing. Events. Leisure. Sport ...

  24. Shelter Island's Menantic Yacht Club is setting sail into 2024

    The Menantic Yacht Club (MYC) is back for another season of fun Sunfish racing and camaraderie. Our membership has increased over the years, with an average of 25 sailors participating every weekend. There will be one major change this year as the MYC's long-time Commodore Pete Bethge has retired; he and Sallie are now enjoying life full-time ...