Volvo Ocean Race = Screwpile: It’s true. For at least three days this week there was no difference whatsoever between the Volvo Ocean Race and our beloved Screwpile and we're here to call out this blatant plagarism of our treasured local event.
Admittedly, comparing the Volvo Ocean Race and the Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge looks a bit daft on paper and does little to back up our case:
Number of Days: the last Volvo took 146 days, Screwpile is just 3.
Distance Covered: 45,000nm of racing for the Volvo compared to maybe 40nm for Screwpile? Call it 80nm if you include the commute out and back from the race course.
Visitors to Regatta: A total of 2.4 million people visited the Volvo Race Village’s around the world in 2014-2015. The figures for Screwpile’s party were impressive and much fun was had, but less. A lot less.
Number of Boats Entered: Screwpile claws back some glory here -- 46 boats participated last year to just 7 boats for the Volvo this year.
Editions of the Race: Screwpile has been held annually since 1993, so we’re coming up on the 25th anniversary -- the Volvo has just half of that with 13.
So how, you might be wondering, did we get it into our heads that the Volvo brazenly and unashamedly appropriated the very essense of the Chesapeake's mid-summer institution?
Well, the Volvo competitors are making their second trip through the doldrums again -- that's the area around the equator where the prevailing winds are usually quite calm -- and as everyone on the Chesapeake knows, light air racing is really what makes for the most compelling and challenging conditions.
However, the fleet's first experience with the doldrums back in November was a breeze (pun intended) and the brash, vulgar speeds of the Southern Ocean would have had little appeal to Chesapeake racers. We're betting that viewership in the Mid-Atlantic was suffering. Searching for an answer to the plummeting ratings, we think that the Volvo organizers gerrymandered the course to make it familiar and a bit more Screwpile-y.
To their credit, it worked. For three exciting days the winds for the Volvo fleet were about 2kts with gusts barely double that. Temps below on all of the boats topped 40-degrees Celsius (that’s 104-degrees in American) with barely lower air temps. Tacticians were confounded. Sails flapped in anticipation of breeze that wouldn't come. Some boats moved while others were completely parked.
Doesn't that sound eerily like late July on the Chesapeake to anyone else?
Now, let’s play a game. Tell us whether the following quote was said in 2016 by the tactician on PHRF-A1 winner Endorphin or yesterday by the tactician on Vestas 11th Hour Racing: “Progress today has been slow, 1 to 2 knots much of the time, 4 knots of boat speed now feels like we are flying.”
Same game. Was this from the skipper from PHRF-B and overall winner A Parent Tripp or the skipper from MAPFRE? “Anyway, things are going ok, I guess, sailing on speeds around 2 knots and happy when the heading is inside the 45 degrees from course. It is the same for all of us though so we are trying not to complain too much and try to move forward.”
How about some photographic comparisons?
See? Exactly the same. It's uncanny. Anything less than a full, hearfelt apology from the Volvo Ocean Race organizers will just be unacceptable. We'll be waiting and as seasoned Screwpile veterans, we're very good at it.
(Note: We're huge fans of the annual trek to the middle of the Chesapeake for Screwpile each year and this was all done with love. It’s no secret that conditions for racing can be something of a crapshoot at the end of July. on the Chesapeake. Patience and a good boom tent are often rewarded. Also, access to a pool. That one’s really important.)