x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Volvo organisers unfurl anti-piracy measures

Organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race plan to place ships on to a container at an undisclosed location for transport across the Indian Ocean, in order to avoid pirate attacks.

Organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race have revealed more details about their plans to avoid pirate attacks before the yachts reach Abu Dhabi.

Public access to the tracking system on the six racing vessels will be turned off. The yachts will also be loaded on to a container ship at an undisclosed port in the Indian Ocean after the race leaves Cape Town, South Africa.

The boats will resume racing again at an undisclosed point within a day's sailing of Abu Dhabi, off the coastline of the Northern Emirates. The 10-leg race, which began in Alicante, Spain in November, reached Cape Town last week. The second leg to Abu Dhabi will begin on Sunday.

The risk of pirate attacks forced organisers to put the yachts on to a container ship with armed guards. Crews will not travel with the ship.

When the fleet embarks on its third leg to Sanya, China on January 14, the operation will be reversed from the capital.

Yachts will be reloaded to a vessel at another safe haven in the Arabian Gulf, then shipped across the Indian Ocean before resuming the fourth leg.

The scoring system has been changed because of the amendments to the route.

Between Cape Town and Safe Haven One, 80 per cent of the points are allocated. For the final sprint of Leg Two, 20 per cent of the points are up for contention. For the fourth leg, the points system is reversed, so that 20 per cent will be allocated from Abu Dhabi to the undisclosed location, and then 80 per cent will be allocated from the drop-off point to the Chinese port.

Jack Lloyd, the race director, said: "It is unfortunate that we have to take these measures, but we have followed professional advice every step of the way.

"It is still very much a race around the world and we believe we have found a fair points system that will help make it an exciting sprint into Abu Dhabi.

"The teams all understand the situation and have given us their full support."

The race will end in Galway, Ireland next July.

eharnan@thenational.ae