The seventh stage of the Volvo Ocean Race got underway yesterday in New Zealand, with all of the teams setting out on what promises to be another tough and demanding stage. This time, the ships will need to cover 7600 nautical miles (8745 miles/14,075 km) as they race from Aukland to Itajaí, Brazil. The route will take them around the infamous Cape Horn in South Africa and through the Drake Passage as they navigate the Souther Ocean before turning northward across the Atlantic.
Stage 7 is the longest and most coveted section of this year’s race by far. The teams will get bonus points for being the first to round the Cape, and they’ll get double points for arriving in Itajaí first too. That’s because race organizers know that they’re going to have to earn it, navigating the rough seas and unpredictable weather of the Southern Ocean while en route. In addition to the big winds and big waves they’ll find at the bottom of the world, they’ll also have to watch out for icebergs too.
Strategy and swiftness will combine in this stage with the teams having to avoid major storms and pick just the right route. There will be plenty of opportunities for the ships to pick different courses, with bold captains looking for potential options that could make or break their ambitions of winning the stage and the race. Navigating the Horn is never an easy thing to do and picking the right route north will play a crucial role in who reaches Brazil first. In other words, it should be a particularly interesting and fun stage to watch.
After sitting out the last stage due to damage to the ship, Team Vestas 11th Hour as returned to race this section. You may recall that Vestas was involved in a collision with another vessel on their way into Hong Kong during stage 5 and as a result suffered some damage. The ship couldn’t be repaired in Hong Kong itself, so it was sent to New Zealand instead. Now that it is seaworthy again, they are back in the race, and ready for the wild route that sits ahead.
You’ll be able to follow all of the action on the Volvo Ocean Race website. The webpage does a great job of keeping us informed of how things are proceeding, offering excellent photos and video as the stages transpire. The next leg should be an amazing one to follow, as the teams face their biggest challenges yet.
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