I’ve been covering the run up to the event for several months now, but this weekend it finally gets underway. On Sunday, the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain where the seven teams that will be participating in this grueling event have already gathered at the starting line.
This the 13th edition of the race, which first started back in 1973. The 2017-2018 route features 11 individual legs, covering more than 45,000 nautical miles (51,585 miles/83,340 km), culminating at the finish line in The Hague next June. Between now and then though, the teams will face a demanding course that will take them across the both the Atlantic and the Pacific, while also spending a great deal of time in the treacherous and difficult Southern Ocean as well.
The first leg of the VOR runs from Alicante to Lisbon, Portugal, covering just 1450 nautical miles. They should arrive in port sometime around the first of November, giving the crews a chance to get a feel for their ship and work closely with one another. After that, they’ll set out for Cape Town, South Africa, covering some 7000 nautical miles en route. By then, the race will truly be on, with subsequent legs running to Melbourne and Hong Kong.
In May of 2018, the Volvo Ocean Race will make its only stop in North America, with teams arriving in Newport, Rhode Island. By then, the crews will have completed the first 8 legs of the journey, and will have some much deserved downtime in port before making the dash across the Atlantic. Those festivals are expected to take place May 8-20. Race organizers say that when the 2015 edition of the VOR arrived in Newport, more than 125,000 fans were on hand.
Billed as a mix of endurance, sport, technology, and adventure, the race is an incredible test of skill and stamina. The boats are high-tech in design and built for speed out on the open ocean, while the sailors that crew them are strong, smart, and experienced. All of the teams have come to Spain with an eye on winning this race, and while there are some squads that are favored going into the event, a lot can happen over the next eight months. In other words, once the gun goes off on Sunday, it will be a wide open race with a lot of incredible challenges ahead.
Good luck to all of the teams!
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