Round-the-World Volvo Ocean Race Comes to Baltimore

Brian Handwerk
National Geographic Ne
April 19, 2002

The round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race is one of sailing's greatest challenges.

The eight competing teams in this test of skill and will have arrived in Baltimore-Annapolis waters after completing six of the race's nine legs. The overall outcome is still in doubt, which means exciting racing lies ahead.

Chesapeake Welcomes Round-the-World Racers

Three days and 875 nautical miles after a chaotic and controversial start in Miami, Team News Corp sailed triumphantly into a nearly empty Baltimore harbor at 2:12 a.m. on April 19th as the winner of the sixth leg of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race.

Skipper Jez Fanstone's boat outlasted the competition as a four-boat pack battled for the finish through light wind conditions and flat-calm waters. The challenging combination made for a particularly tense run up the Chesapeake Bay.

"We didn't know we'd won it until we crossed the line," wrote Jez Fanstone from dockside. "Literally, half a mile from the line we had stopped with no wind and it [is] certainly not over until the fat lady sings in this sport, so I think the relief is only just setting in, and I think the elation will follow."

It was the first victory of the race for the boat backed by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, which boasts e-mail writing wise-guy Bart Simpson as an unofficial thirteenth member.

"It feels all right! Fantastic!" said Fanstone. "Three years' work for me and months and years for all the crew. Huge team effort, shore crew. Fantastic."

Many Miles to Go

Today's celebration belongs to Team News Corp, but it's theirs to enjoy only until the next leg begins. Three more stages remain in the grueling race that covers 32,700 nautical miles and circumnavigates the globe over 10 months.

The overall leader is German entry Illbruck Challenge, headed by a Californian—America's Cup and Soloing Olympic silver medalist John Kostecki. The boat is still the one to beat, but the gap may be narrowing and should make for exciting racing over the final three stages.

Every four years the Volvo Ocean Race (formerly known as the Whitbread Round the World Race) takes sailors on the journey of a lifetime, following prevailing winds around the world and through four oceans.

Continued on Next Page >>




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