Armed Guards to Protect Volvo Ocean Race Sailors from Pirates

By MarEx 2011-12-12 15:46:40

The fleet of sail boat participating in the Volvo Ocean Race will be escorted through the dangerous waters of the Indian Ocean by armed guards in order to protect participants from pirates.

Race organizers – recognizing the increasing risk of pirate attacks – redrew the route for the second leg of the race from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.

Six teams left Cape Town over the weekend to sail the second leg to Abu Dhabi. Online, fans can follow the progress of the fleet and see updated locations; however, when the fleet goes beyond the northern tip of Madagascar live location and progress updates will not be made public, in an effort to protect the sailors from pirates. Additionally, heavy lift ships will pick up the sailboats at an undisclosed safe location and transport them closer to Abu Dhabi – allowing them to resume the race in safer waters.

The transport ship will be manned by armed guards as well as other security technology. Sailing crews will not be transported on the heavy lift ship.

This same process will be reversed in the third leg before the fleet sails to Sanya, China.
This is the 38 years since the race’s inception that the routes have had to be cut short because of the threat of pirates.

The modifications to the race came after the advisement by government and marine agencies. Race organizers have tried to make the race fair by also modifying the scoring system – making the race from Cape Town to the “safe haven” 80 percent of the points and the race from the drop point to Abu Dhabi worth 20 points.

At present time, Spain’s Team Telefonica is leading the race with 31 points, just ahead of Camper (Spain/New Zealand) at 29 and the French Groupama with 22 points. 

Map of race route (courtesty of http://www.volvooceanrace.com):