It couldn’t be closer!
- All seven in the fleet within striking distance of the lead
- Follow the race all the way with our new app
- Sail your own race with our Official Game
ALICANTE, Spain, October 16 – All seven Volvo Ocean Race boats have tasted the lead at least once during five extraordinary days of racing since setting off from Alicante at the weekend in sailing which is re-writing the offshore rule-book.
In years past, the fleet would have been well stretched, tens of miles apart, by this stage in Leg 1 between Alicante and Cape Town.
Instead we are seeing close-quarter action more akin to in-shore sailing with hundreds of metres often separating the fleet. It means that each sailor barely has a second to relax while he or she can still see – almost – the whites of their rivals' eyes.
By 1000 UTC on Thursday, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing still retained a tiny lead over Dongfeng Race Team with Team SCA hot on their heels in third and the rest of the fleet still very much in touch and within striking distance.
It was always suspected that the competition would be close for the 12th edition of the 41-year-old event which is introducing a one-design boat, the Volvo Ocean 65, for the first time. But never quite this tight.
The proximity of the fleet has even caught the technical team of the Race organisers by surprise – they have had to re-configure the online tracker which had been built to calculate tens or hundreds miles of separation between the boats rather than the odd mile or so.
"It’s remarkable how compressed the seven Volvo Ocean 65s are at this point in the race,” said Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s onboard reporter, Matt Knighton.
“Race veterans can’t believe it. Onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the guys are just now starting their normal sleep rhythms after spending the first three nights of the race with no rest.
“Still, there’s little chance to relax when your competition is only a few miles away. Bright lights on the horizon.”
For one sailor, Tony Rae of Team Vestas Wind, there has been precious little rest or comfort after setting out on Saturday from Alicante with a badly bruised – or possibly broken – rib.
He is using the bottom of a kitbag to protect the injury after an out-of-control grinder handle hit him in the chest in a practice race prior to departure.
Rae, 53, who is the oldest sailor in the fleet, has made little of the injury. “I didn’t want to worry my mum,” he explained.
48 hours from the start gun
Sailors try to calm their nerves before Volvo Ocean Race Leg 1
Check out our new app to follow the race from your pocket
Sail your own race with our Official Game
ALICANTE, Spain, Oct 9 – While tens of thousands of race village visitors to the Volvo Ocean Race enjoyed the unseasonably hot weather without a care in the world on Thursday, 66 sailors were left to contemplate nearly 39,000 miles and nine months of sailing’s toughest offshore crewed racing which starts in just 48 hours.
The last two days before the 12th edition is a time for families, preparation and trying to calm nerves before an event that takes every last shred of concentration, emotion and energy from its participants.
For many, especially Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker, the beginning of Leg 1 to Cape Town can only bring back bad memories after his challenge was scuppered within hours of departure from Alicante in 2011 when the rig of his Volvo Open 70 was snapped during a coastal Mediterranean storm.
This time the forecast is more benign – medium light winds – and the seven-strong fleet are sailing in a new one-design boat, the Volvo Ocean 65, which is built for durability.
However, as another experienced sailor, Team Brunel navigator Andrew Cape, made clear, the hours beforehand are continuing to drag.
“I want the race to get going, and I want to get into the race, but we can't go now, there's not even any food onboard, so Saturday's the day,” he said.
Everyone has a personal bag of their own items to take on board.
“In the old days we used to have a list that said how many underpants, how many shoes etc. But now we just get what we're given. People take photos of family, some laminate them and pin them up. Some people take some weird stuff - people take music players so they can relax. I've never seen a book on board.”
Nobody will be more keyed up than the two Chinese sailors on board Dongfeng Race Team, Jiru Yang (Wolf) and Jin Hao Chen (Horace), whose offshore sailing experience remains minimal.
Their crewmate Martin Strömberg, a winner onboard Groupama in 2011-12 last time, was feeding off their energy – Wolf was even in tears at a news conference earlier this week speaking of his pride in taking part and helping to fly the flag of 1.3 billion people.
“The Chinese guys are very excited, and it gives me a bit of a boost as well, because it's nice to see them excited about getting out and sailing, it's cool to see,” said Strömberg.
So how will the big Swede be preparing himself for Saturday’s Leg 1 lift-off come 1400 local time in Alicante?
“I have my family here so we'll probably go out for a nice meal in the evening - early to bed. Get ready for the leg start. We've been here for a month, it's been very nice, but now real life starts - and we'll all get a rude awakening, I think, when we get out on the ocean."
360°-view technology key to Volvo Cars’ goal of no fatal accidents by 2020
With the development of a new safety feature that locates collision-free escape routes, Volvo Cars has taken one of the final steps towards realizing its vision that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.
In December, the four-year Non-Hit Car and Truck project will draw to a close, leaving as its crowning achievement the development of next-generation sensor fusion technologies that provide a seamless 360° view around a car.
A Swedish collaboration between academia, various institutions and industry, the Non-Hit Car and Truck project has focused on developing new technologies and improving existing ones in order to reduce accident risks for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
Unparalleled 360° view around the car – sensor fusion
One of the project’s challenges was to build one cohesive detection system out of a number of discrete sensors installed around the car, something that has never before been accomplished. This required the development of a centralized Sensor Fusion framework to enable the various technologies – cameras, radar, lidar, GPS, etc.— to share information efficiently.
Through this framework, the system is able to provide a complete 360° view of the environment and perceive any potentially threatening objects that drivers would otherwise not be able to see. By focusing on viable automotive sensors, the project has taken a big step in making this new technology a reality in the near future.
Generating collision-free escape routes – threat assessment
The 360° view is enhanced by the maneuvre generator, a new safety feature that uses software to identify collision-free escape routes in all traffic scenarios. The system, which works by constantly analyzing threats around the car, can even assist drivers with auto-braking and steering. To illustrate how the 360° view and manoeuvre generator work together, the project has built two test vehicles.
A milestone for 2020 and self-driving cars
“Volvo Cars is definitely on the front line when it comes to innovative active safety research and development. And with the Non-Hit Car and Truck project, we’ve taken a significant step towards realizing the vision that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car. The technology is also imperative for the development of self-driving cars, which will be able to automatically steer and brake to avoid collision with any object in any situation. Our primary objective is to focus on preventing different types of accident scenarios. But going forward, we will also continue to work on developing cars that adapt to each individual driver’s unique behavior,” says Anders Almevad, Project Manager for the Non-Hit Car Project at Volvo Cars.
About the Non-Hit Car and Truck project
The Non-Hit Car and Truck project, an 80-million-SEK endeavor started by Volvo Cars and its partners in September 2010, will be closing in December 2014. It supports Volvo Cars’ vision that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car. The focus has been on developing technologies to reduce accident risks for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Partners include: Volvo Cars, AB Volvo, ÅF (sensor fusion development), HiQ (sensor fusion development, threat assessment), Mecel (sensor supplier) and Chalmers University of Technology (sensor fusion development, driver adaptation). The Non-hit Car and Truck project is associated with the SAFER Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre.