Millennials Take On The Volvo Ocean Race

By Charles Fort

A young crew take on toughest ocean race.

Young crew of the Turn the Tide on PlasticPhoto: Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race

The Southern Ocean is no place for the squeamish. But Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race dives right in to the legendary cold and giant waves that may be the most challenging place on the planet to sail. Dee Caffari, skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic, is one of the Volvo racers leaving Cape Town for Melbourne on the 6,500-mile leg of the legendary race (formerly known as the Whitbread). While Caffari is a veteran round-the-world sailor, nearly three-quarters of her crew are not.

"I'm not sure they know exactly what they've let themselves in for, but I'm sure just like the rest of us sailors who have been in the Southern Ocean, they'll find it to be some of the best and worst sailing they will ever do," says Caffari. Her crew is a roughly 50-50 mix of men and women, many of whom are under 30, squarely in the middle of the millennial generation. Shrinking violets they're not; the young crew will be fighting winds of up to 50 to 60 knots with waves topping 30 feet.

Sailing the Volvo Ocean RacePhoto: Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race

While not all of the crew are veterans of the Southern Ocean's Roaring 40s and Furious 50s, the Volvo Ocean 65 class boats are designed for round-the-world sailing. They're nearly identical at 73 feet LOA, 67 feet on deck, with a beam of 18 feet. Maximum draft is almost 16 feet. It's not unusual for these boats to average nearly 25 knots in extreme conditions.

For more on Turn the Tide on Plastic's race, check out this video:

While "Generation Me" has been accused of being self-absorbed and smartphone-addicted, for 20 days or so, these millennials will be at the mercy of nature's fury, with extreme weather, seasickness, and exhaustion. 

— Published: December 2017

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