American Team Takes Lead in Volvo Ocean Race

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The first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race ended this past weekend in Lisbon, Portugal, with the American team of Vestas 11th Hour Racing arriving first at the finish line. The crew completed the 1650 nautical mile course in 6 days, 2 hours, and 8 minutes, which was enough to put them ahead of second place team MAPFRE of Spain by more than two and a half hours, and earned them 8 points towards the eventual win when the race wraps up in The Hague next June.

This first leg of the event ran from Alicante, Spain – where the VOR began back on October 22 – to Lisbon, passing through the Strait of Gibraltar en route. The route took them round the island of Porto Santo and a virtual waypoint located at sea that race directors added to the course midway through the leg.

Over the past few days, all seven teams competing in the Volvo Ocean Race have enjoyed some time in port in Lisbon as they prepare for the next leg of the event. This stage will be far more grueling then the one, running for more than 7000 nautical miles from Lisbon to Cape Town, South Africa.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing is captained by American skippers Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, who bring years of sailing experience to the team. They also have a tough and dedicated crew made up of sailors from the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, and Australia. The team did well in the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race, and has returned this year to improve on their ranking, while also promoting a message of sustainability and protecting the environment as well.

While the victory in the first stage of the race is a good one, this grueling event is only now really getting underway. The first leg was a good shakedown cruise and a solid way to test the boats and crew. But, there are some major stages yet to come, including quite a bit of sailing in the difficult and treacherous Southern Ocean. This should be quite an event to follow in the weeks ahead.

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Kraig Becker