DHL Moves Man and Machine in Year-Long Race

Official logistics sponsor for 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race stands by 24/7 to deliver goods, services and support within extreme environments


Utilizing a “leap frog” process throughout the race, DHL moved two identical sets of containers for each team, shipping a total of 152, 40-foot containers to 10 different stopovers around the world by conclusion of the race. While the first container was used during one leg of the race, DHL delivered the second container to the next destination. Furthermore, each team also had two airfreight containers shipped to each stopover. Upon arrival, the teams took over the second container to use it during the next leg while DHL prepared the previously-used container for the next stopover. The method was necessary to guarantee on-time delivery because the Volvo Open 70 vessels used by each of the six teams are much faster than commercial vessels. DHL’s warehouse, near the airport in Amsterdam, additionally had to be large enough to store the racing teams’ massive vessel parts, such as 105-foot tall, 1,700-pound masts.

“We rely on so much material being brought around the world for us,” said Read. “We have to duplicate every single thing we have in order for DHL to leap-frog our containers from port to port around the world. Just that alone becomes pretty stressful logistically. Then you mix in the fact that a lot of the key items being transported are very expensive—bottom line is I’m glad I’m a sailor and don’t have to deal with the logistics of it all,” laughed Read.

Race to the finish

While the No. 1 goal for each of the teams is to be the first to cross that finish line, to be able to look back at the past year and the challenges that they each faced and overcame with the help of DHL is a feat in itself. And while changes for the 2014-2015 race are expected—as goes with anything that is bound to change within days and months let alone years—the accomplishments that each of the teams and all folks involved achieved throughout the race will not be forgotten easily.

“We’re not there yet but the biggest accomplishment will always be finishing the race,” said Read. “Don’t get me wrong—we’re in this to win. But from a safety standpoint, this is a dangerous sport and I never want to make that call to a wife to say ‘your husband is not coming home.’ Win, lose or draw—that would be our biggest accomplishment—to have the same 11 guys on the boat when we cross that finish line as when we started the race.”

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