The Volvo Ocean Race route has been announced for 2017-18. The global race will span approximately 43,700 nautical miles with stops in 11 different cities and 130 to 140 days at sea.
The race, which began in 1973, will kick off from the Spanish city of Alicante with a 700 nm sprint through the Mediterranean to Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon. This will be the first test for the competing sailors and could be difficult as racers have run into complications in these waters in the past.
After Lisbon, the Volvo Ocean Race will head down below the Equator to the port city of Cape Town. Cape Town has participated in the race since its first edition and in 10 of 12 editions overall. This time will be a little different as the race has never gone from Portugal to South Africa, meaning the fleet will have to deal with North Atlantic conditions from the start of the leg.
The third leg of the race is the longest and could be the most exciting. From Cape Town the fleet heads 12,000 nm to Hong Kong, spending a significant amount of time in the powerful and challenging Southern Ocean. The 2017-18 edition of the race contains “over three times the amount of Southern Ocean Miles than in previous editions”. Racers will go from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, China in a non-scoring transition where there will be a full stopover program that includes an in-port race.
The fleet will return to Hong Kong before resuming the race with its fifth leg to Auckland, New Zealand. From Auckland, which has been present in all but two editions of the race, sailors will make their way through the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn to the Brazilian city of Itajaí.
Leaving Itajaí, racers will have to decide between offshore or inshore sailing as they head up the coast to Newport, Rhode Island. After Newport, the fleet will shoot across the Atlantic to Cardiff, Wales, arriving in May 2018.
The 3,300 nm leg across the Atlantic will be followed by two shorter sections to finish the 2017-18 race. The fleet will first head north from Cardiff around the British Isles to Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city. The race will then reach its thrilling conclusion with a 520 nm sprint to the Dutch city The Hague.
When the race has finished, it will mark the completion of the Volvo Ocean Race’s longest course. In spite of the extra miles, the upcoming race is planned to be a month shorter than in previous years. Combined with the difficulty of the course, this factor could lead to one of the most thrilling races yet.