Having just come down from the high of having the Volvo Ocean Race in town (Newport) for the only North American stopover, we bring you this oldy-but-goody video of the 1973-74 Whitbread Race – the very first edition of this circumnavigation race. Unlike the current version of this race (now called the Volvo Ocean Race), there were no onboard reporters with video cameras being forced in faces and no daily blogs from the boats. Very few videos exist at all – and from the 73-74 edition there were some great clips to include in this video which also features lots of photos from the race.
The video really points out how far this race has come. From the boats used in the race, to the kind of sailors (now all pros) that were invited along, it had a flavor of serious ocean racing but this newer Volvo Race has embraced the “extreme” angle, and with good reason. Modern audiences watching VOR YouTube and Facebook videos that are only hours old and are coming from every entry, scream that this is a dangerous and definitely very extreme undertaking.
Three sailors were swept overboard during this Whitbread Race and two were never recovered. (Paul Waterhouse and Dominique Guillet). French sailor, Eric Tabarly, entered his famous ocean racer, Pen Duick VI, which never finished the race due to mast failure, but he later raced the boat singlehanded into Newport, winning the transatlantic race with his boat, built to be sailed with twelve aboard. There is plenty of amazing history in this film, and aside from the now comical comments about “modern” navigation equipment and other zingers like it – it’s a great movie for sailing buffs.
So take a trip back in time and enjoy some history of the birth of what is one of the coolest and craziest races on the ocean. And decide for yourselves if you would have rahter sailed with Sir Peter Blake on his sturdy entry in ’73, or perhaps with the crazies out there on Volvo Ocean 65’s who are currently crossing oceans and blogging daily about their extreme adventure at sea.