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20 July 2013

Volvo Ocean Race Marshaling

Auckland was one of the stopovers on the 2011/2012 Volvo Ocean Race and we had the opportunity to go out on Paneca, one of the Stewart 34 boats that were marshaling the race (the Stewart 34s are the boats Scott goes racing on). The Volvo Ocean Race (used to be known as the Whitbread Round the World Race - on our marshal boat was someone who had actually raced in this with Sir Peter Blake!) happens every three years and is literally a race around the world. It has between 9-10 legs and takes about 9 months to complete.

Each boat has 11 professional crew members who race day and night for upwards of 20 days in a row on some legs. They don't have fresh food on board, they only have one change of clothes and I'm pretty sure they don't shower during the race. They are basically crazy people.

Auckland was the fifth leg of the race. The boats raced from Sanya, China to Auckland arriving March 8th and then left again on March 19th to race to Itajai, Brazil. While they were in Auckland they had an in-port race out in the Hauraki Gulf.

People in Auckland are mad about boats and sailing and almost 80,000 people turned up to welcome the boats and watch the in-port race. And while many people had to watch from the shore or at home on their TV, anyone who could got out on their boat and watched the race from the water. This is a recipe for madness which is where the marshal boats come in. Like the marshals in the Wild West, they're the law and everyone is supposed to do what they say especially when they say stay out the race course area. But these boats were like kittens who won't stay in the box with their momma cat and keep trying to escape. They just wouldn't stay back from the line. So the marshal boats spent a lot of their time patrolling up and down the course line trying to get the boats to stay back.

I wasn't sure what the big deal was until the Volvo boats came screaming towards us. They are big and super FAST. They can reach speeds of up to 40 knots. That's FAST. At one point the Telefonica boat came so close to us I thought they were going to crash into us. Fortunately, they tacked and I started breathing again. Thank goodness for those marshal boats who kept everyone safely back!

The Volvo Boats at the Viaduct

The Telefonica Boat. So close you could reach out and shake their hands if they weren't so busy getting ready to tack to keep from crashing into us
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