Days of Yore
VOR reanimates 1st Whitbread
ALICANTE, Spain _ Volvo Ocean Race organizers have blown the cobwebs off their oldest archives to produce a unique document: a digitally restored version of the official film for the inaugural 1973-74 Whitbread Round the World Race, the VOR’s precursor. The original was believed to be lost to the ages. But it was retrieved from the VOR video archive in London, home to a mountain of video and film material amassed over 40 years.
Previously available only in low resolution, the original has been digitally upgraded. The outcome is an amazing document showing the innocent, uncomplicated nature of blue water racing in the 1970s. Crew were not decked out in uniforms and set off in something of a party atmosphere. Sails were advertising-free zones. One boat was built in 1936. Another missed a buoy at the start off Portsmouth in southern England. The film shows washing draped across the railing to dry. Boat positions are relayed to race organizers by radio.
That first Whitbread attracted 17 yachts. They carried 167 crew from 7 nations. They left Portsmouth for a circumnavigation with only 3 stops: Cape Town, Sydney, and Rio de Janeiro – before heading back to the UK. The race was won by Sayula II of Mexico (photo). See the original film at: