Everybody knows that sailboat racing is a boring spectator sport — as exciting as watching paint dry, the old cliche goes. And mostly that is true. Why then are thousands of people turning out to greet and watch the seven yachts currently competing in the around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race? The answer, I think, is that these boats and these sailors are living on the edge, literally, between survival and disaster. They have already come 25,000 miles over the last seven months through the world’s most treacherous seas at speeds of up to 40 knots, rocketing off waves 30 feet high, dodging icebergs and enduring exhuberant parties at every stop. These boats are too light and too fragile to do what they are doing — and that’s the appeal. In our seatbelted, risk-adverse, liability-protected, politically-correct, over-insured world, these seventy sailors are among the last true adventurers.

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