This is a historic article from the last Volvo Ocean Race, held in 2017 / 2018. It will be updated when the next race takes place if it passes through Auckland (but they always do).
Auckland knows how to throw a party, and I could feel the excitement in the air as I approached. The City of Sails is perfectly situated for a stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race Around the World. Auckland has been a host for nearly all of the races since its inception in 1973.
A gruelling test of skill and endurance, the Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s longest and most challenging yacht race, and is often considered the world’s most difficult professional sporting event.
It takes 9-months to sail 45k miles around the world. The last race spread a message of sustainability and clean seas. It was in Auckland on a stopover before starting its most difficult leg, sailing the Southern Ocean to Brazil.
Previously called the Whitbread Round the World Race, it runs every three years. The 2017 installation began in in Spain on 22 October and reached New Zealand after the sixth of its eleven legs to circumnavigate the globe. The most challenging leg was after our temperate island, crossing the Southern Ocean from Auckland New Zealand to Itajai Brazil.
Spreading a message of sustainability and saving our oceans
More than just a challenge, during the last instalment of the race the teams were spreading the United Nation’s message of sustainability and promoting the UN campaign “Clean Seas: Turn the Tide on Plastic”.
Taking this a step further, the UN partnered a yacht skippered by Dee Caffari. She led a young team of 10 sailors, most of whom were under age 30. The team’s guiding mission was to amplify the United Nation’s environmental message throughout the race.
Named “Wisdom”, the Volvo Ocean Race mascot is an albatross (in honour of the world’s oldest wild bird). He helped spread a message of sustainability at each of the 2017 Volvo Ocean Race stopovers.
More images of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race Auckland stopover
While the fleet was on a stopover in New Zealand, the city created a race village to celebrate.
The stopover weekend featured pro-am races (crew plus invited guests). It served as an opportunity for the teams to sail before heading off on their next leg, from New Zealand to Brazil.
See the fleet from the water
The Volvo Ocean Race Around the World will be returning to Auckland in 2022. During the 2017 race, we found two places to watch the boats. First, from behind the pit lane (the team bases located next to the ANZ Viaduct Event Centre), and later we saw them from Queen’s Wharf while standing next to The Cloud.
However, the best way to see the boats is from out on the water. If you are in Auckland in 2022 and don’t have a boat, here are few fun options for getting out on the water (although you may not see the Volvo boats from all of them):
- Race or sail on a former America’s Cup yacht
- Go on a whale and dolphin watching adventure
- Kayak out to Rangitoto Island and then hike to the top of this Volcano
- Enjoy a sunset dinner cruise
Images from the prior Volvo Ocean Race Auckland stopover
The first time we headed to Auckland to see the Volvo Ocean Race fleet was in 2014. Here are our highlights from that year.
* The current number of sailors allowed on each of the ocean racing boats in the Volvo Ocean Yacht Race can be between 5 and 10, and that number is determined by gender. An all-male crew is a maximum of 5, all-female is a maximum of 7, and if it is 50-50, they can sail with a crew of up to 10 sailors.
More about the Volvo Ocean Race and the Auckland stopover
- You can click here to download a map of the 2017 Auckland race village.
- All teams race a Volvo Ocean 65. With the boats all built to the same specs, the race is about skill and endurance rather than craftsmanship and technology.
- Former New Zealand winning skippers include Sir Peter Blake on the Steinlager 2 and Graham Dalton on the NZ Endeavour. Mike Sanderson, a third New Zealand skipper, also won, but he was skippering a Dutch yacht.
- The seven teams competing in the 2017-18 race were: AkzoNobel (Netherlands), Dongfeng (China), Mapfre (Spain), Vestas 11th Hour (USA/Denmark), Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (Hong Kong), Turn the Tide on Plastic (United Nations), and Brunel (Netherlands).
- The Big Three in world sailing events are the Volvo Ocean Race, along with the Ameria’s Cup challenge and the Olympics.
- The fanfare around it is one of the many festivals in Auckland.
Though the race is long since over, our planet’s health continues to be an issue. Please share the message of sustainability and clean seas by pinning this to Pinterest:
Do you follow each installment of the Volvo Ocean Race?
More from Auckland you might also like … starting with these 75 free and nearly free things to do in the city
This is one interesting events to enjoy. I remember seeing similar race in Lac Leman, Geneva. It was cool!
We do know about the Volvo Ocean Race as my husband works for Vestas and we’ve been following along somewhat from Copenhagen. Unfortunately, the 11th hour boat had a tragic collision outside of Hong Kong, so it hasn’t been perfect for “our team.” I too applaud the sustainable focus and love the attention being drawn to alleviating ocean plastic. Thank you for sharing the Auckland perspective! Would be fun to see the boats up close and personal!
How fun to be part of the action in some way. I was sad to read about the tragedy and opted not to include it my write up as I am more focused on the positive message and the amazing endurance of the athletes. I hope you do get to see the boats close up.
I have followed the Volvo Ocean Race – what an incredible event! I love that they are supporting the reduction of plastic waste with the “Clean Seas: Turn the Tide on Plastic” campaign. I’ve been to Auckland and seen the America’s Cup yachts – what an iconic sailing destination.
Sandy N Vyjay
The Volvo Ocean Race is an epic one. Covering a distance of 45,000 kms. is tremendous. The yachts look so sleek and beautiful. However, it must be indeed a test of endurance for the sailors as they compete in the race. What is heartening is the fact that this is much more than a race. Spreading the message of sustainability and keeping the seas clean is such a laudable effort.
What an event! I can’t believe it’s a 9 month commitment. Talk about dedication. It must be such a fun sailing event. I can’t believe I’d never heard of it before. And I do love the sustainable message.
This sounds like such an exciting event to watch, let alone participate in. I totally love how they’ve adopted a sustainable theme this year. Plastic kills so much sea life it’s incredible. Love the tips on where and how to see the races.
Excellent that they’re doing so much to encourage sustainability and reduce plastic waste. The only thing I knew about yacht racing before this was from Lost — thanks for the informative post!
I’m always so impressed by long-term sailors..9 months is a long time! I could never do it – have a bit of a fear of the deep sea which I don’t like to admit – but kudos to those who have the drive to do it. Especially with those tight quarters! Love the sustainability message being brought to the masses.
How great it would be to be part of this race. Just finishing would be a huge achievement. I like that the U.N. is partnering to draw attention to micro-plastics in our oceans.
What a unique concept for the race! I really appreciate their zeal, enthusiasm and goal.
I have never done sailing but this does look interesting. Great pics.
I like the idea behind this race because it has a sports component but an awareness and goodwill components too. It is great that they are stopping in several cities spreading a positive message. I can see how this race turns difficult. For what I see, it takes a while to complete.
That sounds like a lot of fun and hard work, all at the same time. Very long race. When we lived in Martinique they had a race like this, except it just went around the island. It took 7 days and there were a lot more than 7 boats. I think it took a whole week because of all the parties. It was fun to watch though.
A race around the world is awesome! I have never heard of this and am grateful for your article. It is great that they are spreading the message of clean oceans and sustainability. I so want to see this in person, even if it is only one section of the race.
So cool that they promote sustainability to the large crowds who view this race. It would be a dream come true for me to attend this – just something about ocean racing!
Perhaps it is doing a stopover near where you live. There are 11 stops in this year’s race.
Paul F. Pietrangelo
I loved the all women Team SCA . Cleaning the ocean is very important especially since I enjoy cruising the sea. Big ships are great but I wouldn’t like to cruise the ocean on a small ship. Nope, not for me. See ya Rhonda.
I was pretty impressed by an all women’s team also. There isn’t one this time, although the UN boat is skippered by a woman. The numbers on the ship are maximum 5 if all male, maximum 7 if all female, maximum 10 if split 50/50. Plus they are allowed one reporter – another job I would not want.
Harmony, Momma To Go
Ive been reading a book about a family who sails around the world! What a cool experience, but yeah those sailors are tight on space. This is something I would love to do but maybe on a luxury liner!
I am happy to sail locally, but I am a fair weather sailor. I don’t know if I would even be happy on an ocean crossing in a cruise ship.
Race against Plastic – good that they are dedicating this sailing race to a race that humanity needs the most. It must be a great event to witness. I had no idea of any such races that can be witnessed by the general public – good to know about that. Have met few sailors who have sailed around the world and they have such interesting stories to tell.
I was really impressed that they took this opportunity to do some good with the race.
I would love to watch that race. They have a very important advocacy, especially at this time when environmental issues seem to be ignored by politicians. I bet the sailors were welcomed very warmly in NZ!
I am pretty sure they all love it here in New Zealand. It’s cooler than some of their other stops, and it’s a really important one, as the next leg is the most difficult. However, my understanding is the biggest party for the boats takes place at the next stop in Brazil, where the event draws more people than the town’s population.
So Aukland’s nickname is the “City of Sails”? I didn’t know that. These ocean races are famous all over the world and my husband is in awe when he can catch a glimpse of some of these yachts. I’m glad to hear that UN decided to spread the message of clean seas. We really need to raise awareness about that.
Yes, Auckland is the city of sails. Like your hubby, I am in awe of these yachts and of the endurance and perseverance of the sailors.
It’s fun to see all of the bright colors of each boat! I’m glad to see people are making an effort to address plastic waste. I’m finding more ways to reduce the plastic I use and throw out, so I’m excited to see others are bringing awareness to plastic waste.
I agree. I was so happy to see the UN boat with the huge sail reminding us about Clean Seas.
I’ve ever heard of the Volvo Ocean Race but it sounds like something amazing to witness firsthand! I’m completely intrigued by this.
Did you know it as the Whitbread Races?
Annette @ A French Collection
Rhonda what an exciting day! The excitement is palpable through your photos. I’ve done a lot of sailing including ocean racing and yes, the facilities below are very minimal. What a super idea to have a yacht interior model for people to experience for themselves what it’s like. Love your post… Annette
I have done local racing, in the Hauraki Gulf, but I have never done open water sailing or racing. It must be exciting, but I am a bit of a fair weather sailor.
Your posts are making me want to visit New Zealand more and more. I didn’t know about this race, but I’m getting into sailing so it’s even more interesting for me! Thanks!
Rhonda, Wow! The race sounds like a lot of fun to watch. I love the huge portraits…very cool!
Those huge portraits were amazing, and a different color from the other side. Plus each stand had the team information on the side facing the marina.
Wonderful story, great catch! Beautiful photos!
Awesome photos and The Volvo Ocean Race looks an amazing opportunity to view.
Looked like a good day loved all the pics Rhonda especially your face one hahaha!
Have a floatastic Sunday 🙂
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor
I LOVE that there is an al-women crew! Ah, looking at your photos is so reminding me of our time in NZ and seeing the Volvo boats previously!
I can’t imagine how hard it would be to sail all around the world. I really like that there’s a woman’s team! Thanks for all the great pics and the info to go along with them. Have a lovely weekend! 🙂
Hi Rhonda .. this is something my mother would have loved to see … me not so much, but if I could get to NZ and see them easily – then yes! Hurricane Pam is wreaking its havoc … I enjoy keeping track of the races, but certainly don’t follow them – glad you featured the sole woman skipper ..
Enjoy – perhaps having another look around … cheers Hilary
Looks like a cool event. Today, I start my vacation. We’re not going anywhere, but I’m thrilled to be off work for a week. Woo hoo!
Sometimes the best vacations are in your own town. I have been focusing on Auckland, and really finding so many cool things.
No, I’ve not followed this race. In fact this is the first I’ve heard about the race. Way cool, but sailing is not my thing. I know it’s yours, but too much work for my old body.
The yachts are gorgeous though.
Have a fabulous day. 🙂
Ocean sailing isn’t my thing either. I am a fair weather sailor. These competitors are really much stronger people than I will ever be.