Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 Begins Friday

800px VolvoOceanRace2006Yachts

The 2011-2012 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will get underway this Friday, when six teams will hit the high seas on a round the world yacht race that pits some of the best racers in the world against one another. The event takes place once every three years and is a test of both stamina and skill. This latest edition will require approximately nine months to complete, with the ships covering 72,000km (39,000 nautical miles).

At the moment, the crew of the six ships are hurriedly putting the final touches on their preparation for their voyages. On Friday, they’ll set sail from Alicante, Spain for their first port of call, Cape Town, South Africa. From there, it is on to Abu Dhabi; Sanya, China; Auckland, New Zealand; Itajai, Brazil; Miami, USA; Lisbon, Portugal; Lorient, France and finally Galway, Ireland. The first ships are expected to arrive in that port city sometime next July.

The race is broken into nine different stages, with the crews racing day and night for up to 20 days at a time on some of those stages. The ships carry 11 crew members, many of whom hold multiple roles. For example, they each must be a trained sailor, but the ship must also have at least two medics, an engineer, a sailmaker, and so on. Over the course of their journey, these men and women will be put to the test as they endure extremes in temperatures, unexpected storms, and days at sea without rest.

To follow the race, keep an eye on the official website, which will offer all kinds of updates and live tracking as the event gets underway.

Kraig Becker