Interview with CAMPER’s Tony Rae, Volvo Ocean Race in Black and White [IMAGES]

Rob Almeida
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February 15, 2012

volvo ocean race logoThe Volvo Ocean Race fleet has completed the first 3 of their 9 total legs around the world and the fleet is gearing up for racing in-port Sanya, China before their 4th leg which will take the fleet across the equator and nearly halfway to the south pole to Auckland, New Zealand.

Team Telefónica is currently leading the regatta with bullets in the first three races, followed by CAMPER in second, and Groupama in third.

In an interview released this morning with 5-time Volvo Race veteran and CAMPER crew member Tony Rae, he remarks on how professional yacht racing has evolved since his first round-the-world race with the late Sir Peter Blake in 1985:

“Everyone is pushing these boats extremely hard so there are bigger differences when someone’s got a knot more breeze or someone has a slightly different angle,” he said. “The boats are so fast, they make bigger gains and bigger losses.”

The Volvo was a different proposition when Rae, 50, first competed in what was formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race as a 24-year-old nipper on board Peter Blake’s Lion New Zealand in 1985-86.

It was a mixed fleet competition with just four ocean legs and no in-port racing. Sailors were not full time employees of the campaign, and they would go to sea without restricting limits to their food or clothing.

Rae recalled that his family held fundraising events to help buy his sailing gear. The team also raced with a cook and a doctor on board.

It was Rae’s second campaign in 1989-90 again with Blake but this time on board Steinlager 2 where he was arguably a part of the birth of professionalism in offshore racing, which was more often considered an adventure not a sport.

Rae was one of 15 crew who worked full-time on the campaign, winning every leg.

“The whole professionalism stepped up on that campaign,” he said. “It was probably the first time there was a true full time campaign on a Whitbread.”

Since then, the race has “stepped up another notch”, Rae said.

Race management have introduced a single class of yacht, crews are limited to 11, including a dedicated media crew member, and racing is a mix of offshore and in-port racing.

As for the sailors, they earn a wage comparable to other professional athletes and teams often have their own doctors, nutritionists and physiotherapists on staff.

The wave of professionalism has had a knock-on effect that has raised the standard of competition, Rae said.

“Everyone is pushing these boats extremely hard so there are bigger differences when someone’s got a knot more breeze or someone has a slightly different angle,” he said. “The boats are so fast, they make bigger gains and bigger losses.”

Highlighting some of the excitement from the past few thousand miles of racing, here are some black and white images from the talented VOR media crews.  More can be found on the Volvo Ocean Race Facebook page HERE.

Charles Caudrelier onboard Groupama Sailing Team Volvo Ocean Race
Charles Caudrelier onboard Groupama Sailing Team during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race) Volvo Ocean Race
Skipper Chris Nicholson Navigator Andy McLean camper volvo ocean race
Skipper Chris Nicholson and Navigator Andy McLean watch the trailing fleet like hawks onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Cape Town, South Africa to Abu Dhabi, UAE. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race) Volvo Ocean Race
Team Sanya training in Alicante, prior to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race) Volvo Ocean Race
Groupama sailing team franck cammas volvo ocean race
Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France finishes third on leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain, to Cape Town, South Africa at 17:28:31 UTC. (Photo Credit must read: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race) Volvo Ocean Race
camper volvo ocean race black and white beam reach
CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia during the V&A Waterfront In-Port Race in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race) Volvo Ocean Race

 

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