The competing boats were due to have sailed through an East African corridor in the Indian Ocean on the second leg from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi and again in the third leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya in China.
After taking advice from marine safety experts Dryad Maritime Intelligence and the sport's governing body, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), race organizers decided that sticking to the original route would put crews at too much risk.
“This has been an incredibly difficult decision,” said Volvo Ocean Race Chief Executive Knut Frostad. “We have consulted leading naval and commercial intelligence experts and their advice could not have been clearer: ‘Do not risk it.’
Instead the boats will race from Cape Town to an undisclosed ‘safe haven’ port, be transported closer to Abu Dhabi, and then complete the leg from there. The process will be reversed for the third leg before the race continues on to Sanya.
“The solution we have found means our boats will still be racing into Abu Dhabi and competing in the in-port race there.
Piracy is a well-organised and highly lucrative business and it has expanded into a vast area off the coast of Somalia. In 2010 a record 1,181 seafarers were kidnapped by pirates, according to figures supplied by Dryad.
“The measures taken by the Volvo Ocean Race are very much in line with the advice that the International Sailing Federation has been giving for some time.” said ISAF Secretary General Jerome Pels.
Full press release