In a world where reality TV has taken over the airwaves as smash hits, shows like The Amazing Race, Survivor, or Fear Factor tend to be considered the most daring. Well, when it comes to really harrowing experiences in life, there is the Volvo Ocean race.

A grueling 9 month odyssey starting from the port of Alicante, Spain on the Mediterranean, six boats launched on October 29, 2011 with the next port of call being Cape Town, South Africa. The roughly 39,000-mile voyage around the world will ultimately end in Galway, Ireland some time around July 7th or 8th. That is, of course, if Mother Nature and the mighty oceans of the world are kind to the sailors and their crafts.

Presently, they are on leg 6 of the journey that started this last Sunday at Italjai, Brazil headed for the port of Miami, Florida, USA. Only 5 of the original 6 boats have started this leg, with one boat out with a rudder problem.

The challenges are amazing. First, you have to outfit a sailing vessel with a crew of 11 and then provision for each leg of the race. At each port, there is an In-Port” race which would be more familiar to followers of the America’s Cup. That is a shortened version of day race where the boats set out from a port race around a course and return to the port for the evening. So that part of the race is pretty standard. However the Volvo race throws in legs of open ocean racing like the monster first one of 6 500 nautical miles from Alicante to Cape Town. The present leg into Miami is only 4 800 (that’s 5 524 miles or 8 890 Kilometers for you land lovers) and is luckily for the sailors the start of the shorter legs into the finish line.

It is tests like these that put people into extreme conditions. Temperature swings from -5 to 40º Celcius (23 to 104 Fahrenheit) are only the beginning. Rain storms mammoth waves strong and calm winds add to the misery or excitement. Not only do the boats have to handle these conditions but the gear for the sailors needs to take into consideration these conditions to keep them safe warm cool and hopefully dry. It’s the kind of branded merchandise you can get from parsonsKellogg for your promotional activities that is filling the bill for the global racers. Technically you have a chance to be part of it. But you don’t have to put your gear to the tests these folks are enduring.

It is an interesting race and can be followed at www.volvooceanrace.com with real time updates and video of what is happening. The five boats left in the races should be pulling into port in Miami sometime around May 6 2012 and the race village will be open from then until the start of the next leg across the Atlantic on May 20th. This is well worth taking in if you are in the Miami area. To see the happenings during that time go to volvooceanracemiami.org. Then come down to the docks and get a peek at these magnificent sailing ships.

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