A fleet of seven teams of racers set off this morning from Alicante, Spain bound for Lisbon, on the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-2018. The eleven leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents, ending next July in The Hague, Netherlands. The teams will race Volvo Ocean 65 one-designs 45,000 miles around the globe.
The seven teams are Team AkzoNobel, backed by a Dutch paint company; Team Dongfeng, sponsored by a Chinese automobile manufacturer; Team MAPFRE, backed by a Spanish insurance company; Team Vestas, supported by the Dutch wind turbine producer; Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, representing a Hong Kong real estate firm; Team Turn the Tide on Plastic/Clean Seas representing a UN environmental group with the support of the Spanish government; and Team Brunel, backed by a Dutch-based global consultancy.
New rules have been introduced in this year’s race to encourage female participation. Also, two crew must be under the age of 30 at the end of the race in July 2018. Team Turn the Tide on Plastics has a female captain, the record-breaking, Dee Caffari.
The start of the race felt almost like match-racing while rounding the buoys to leave the bay. Two of the teams, Brunel and MAPFRE, were penalized for failing to stay clear of the Dongfeng boat.