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banner Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
History of the Whitbread
Whitbread Round The World Race
The Round-the-World Race is held every four years
The Volvo Ocean Race - previously known as the Whitbread Round-the-World Race - began in 1973 but was nearly sunk before it reached the start line.

There was difficulty finding a sponsor after the disastrous Golden Globe Race in 1967, in which eight boats entered but only one made it round the world.

However, the Royal Navy Sailing Association agreed to underwrite the costs of the first event, even if commercial sponsorship could not be found.

With the Navy on board, the race was suddenly a far more attractive proposition, and Whitbread agreed to become sponsors.

EF Language
EF Language won the last Whitbread
The world's greatest ocean race was born.

1973/74

The first-ever Whitbread Round-the-World Race was marred by the deaths of three competitors.

Seventeen boats started the race from Portsmouth harbour and appropriately the Royal Navy's Adventure won the first leg, to Cape Town, on corrected time.

Great Britain II, which was second to Sydney behind Pen Duick VI in the second leg, overcame the death of a crew member to win the third and fourth legs.

After 144 days at sea, she sailed home to set a new around-the-world record, although on overall scoring Sayula II was victorious.

1977/78

Great Britain II was back for the next race, part of a 15-strong fleet.

Heath's Condor took the second leg, despite crew member Bill Abram being swept overboard - he was only saved when his position was marked by circling albatross.

Flyer, which had won the first leg, went on to take the race on corrected time.

1981/82

Tracy Edwards
Tracy Edwards skippered the first all-female crew in 1990

The first leg saw Italian entry Vivanapoli arrive eight days late after it was boarded by an Angolan gunboat, which discovered South Africans on board and arrested them as spies.

Previous winner Flyer won the first two legs, although Ceramco NZ prevailed on corrected time.

The two boats continued their battle in the third leg and fourth legs.

Flyer prevailed to become the first boat to win twice, although not before getting stuck in mud in the Solent.

1985/86

This race started in September, a month later than its predecessors, and L'Esprit d'Equipe took the first leg on corrected time.

The smaller boats took a beating on the second leg, which was won by Atlantic Privateer.

Swiss yacht UBS Switzerland took the final two legs and won the race on elapsed time, but L'Esprit d'Equipe was the race winner on corrected time.

1989/90

This race saw the first-ever women's crew compete aboard the Tracy Edwards-skippered Maiden.

It was also the first time six legs were staged.

Steinlager 2 won the first leg of a race which saw the death of two racers during the stopover.

A third was killed on the second leg, which was won on elapsed time by Maidean.

Steinlager 2 had a thrilling duel with fellow Kiwi maxi Fisher & Paykel NZ to win the third leg by just six minutes.

Steinlager won the final three legs and came home first after 128 days.

1993/94

Endeavour
Endeavour competes in the 1993 race.
The maxi NZ Endeavour took the first leg, with Intrum Justicia taking the second.

One of the highlights of the race was Dalton squeezing home on the fourth leg by just three minutes.

NZ Endeavour kept the lead and they went on to finish overall winner among the maxis after taking the final leg.

Tokio won the final leg among the W60s, but Yamaha finished third and claimed overall victory.

1997/98

The last time the race carried Whitbread's name saw the number of legs increased to nine.

EF Language set its stall out, winning two of the first three legs - and had built an unassailable lead by the end of the seventh leg.

Swedish Match recorded an average speed of 13 knots, the highest in the Whitbread's history, after an inspired move to sail offshore right at the start of the second leg.

Britain's Jez Fanstone - skipper of News Corp in 2001 - was aboard Lawrie Smith's Silk Cut when it set the monohull 24-hour record.

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