Dramas in store as seven Volvo 65s set off on Leg Zero

ALICANTE, Spain: Seven Volvo Ocean Race boats set off together for the two-day Leg Zero on Friday knowing that a series of “crises” loom for all of them – and they have all been planned by the organisers.

The fleet will be sailing to Majorca and back from race headquarters in Alicante and failure to complete the trip will mean they will have to return to do it again or at least complete any unfinished mileage. Before the Leg Zero race starts in earnest, they will need to run through a list of emergency procedures such as losing a man overboard or major equipment failure.

The all-women’s Team SCA have even been given a special model made by race organisers to practise their rescue procedures for a crew member swept off the boat.

Race Director Jack Lloyd explained why the event is ensuring all seven crews go through the crisis rehearsals ahead of the start of the Volvo Ocean Race proper on October 4.

“Leg Zero is a really important exercise for both the Race and the sailors,” says Lloyd. “We are able to dry run all our communications in Race Control and for the media.

“Safety of course is paramount – this race is risky enough as it is – and we want to ensure all the crews know exactly what they need to do if things go badly wrong such as a sailor falling overboard. All the teams have been briefed that they need to go through these safety exercises before the trip.”

Lloyd is underlining that Leg Zero does not count towards the Volvo Ocean Race itself but the ultra-competitive teams which are more evenly matched than ever before in the 41-year history of the event thanks to the new one-design Volvo Ocean 65 can’t help but introducing some serious rivalry to the event.

“This will be a really important test for us and a chance to improve and work on a few things with just weeks to go before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race. Leg Zero is a real race, and we will be treating it as such,” says Italy’s Alberto Bolzan of Team Alvimedica.

“It will be a very important exercise in terms of the sail changes, the tactics, and it will be important to learn from what the other teams do. We are working hard from six in the morning to 10 at night, using every minute of the day.”

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