Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18: Seven boats, nine months, 45,000 miles

Volvo Ocean race route
The race is more than 45,000 nautical miles long and will take the seven crews around nine months to complete

Torn sails, broken masts, capsizes and icebergs - at 45,000 miles, the Volvo Ocean Race is no luxury cruise.

Last time out, Ian Walker - for Abu Dhabi Racing - became the first British skipper to win the race but neither he nor the team will be defending the title.

However, there is still plenty of British interest in the 13th - and longest - edition of a race that first took place in 1973.

Six of the seven boats have at least one Briton on their crew, and - in May next year - Cardiff will become the first British port to host the race since 2006.

But what is the route this time, which teams are competing and who are the Britons involved?

The course

The 2017-18 event starts with an in-port race in Alicante on Saturday, 14 October before the first leg proper starts eight days later.

Four oceans, 12 ports and six continents later, the race finishes in The Hague.

LegStart dateRouteDistance (NMs)Scoring
122 OctAlicante-Lisbon7008-6-5-4-3-2-1
25 NovLisbon-Cape Town7,0008-6-5-4-3-2-1
310 DecCape Town-Melbourne6,50015-12-10-8-6-4-2
42 JanMelbourne-Hong Kong6,0008-6-5-4-3-2-1
51 FebHong Kong-Guangzhou1001pt for completing stage
67 FebHong Kong-Auckland6,1008-6-5-4-3-2-1
718 MarAuckland-Itajai7,60015-12-10-8-6-4-2*
822 AprItajai-Newport (USA)5,7008-6-5-4-3-2-1
920 MayNewport (USA)-Cardiff3,30015-12-10-8-6-4-2
1010 JunCardiff-Gothenburg1,3008-6-5-4-3-2-1
1121 JunGothenburg-The Hague7008-6-5-4-3-2-1

* The first boat to round Cape Horn on this leg wins an extra point.

The boat with the fastest overall time wins an extra point.

Gothenburg fort during the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race
Gothenburg will be the teams' final port of call before the last stage to The Hague
Tactics to the fore...
This is the second edition of the race featuring the single-hull Volvo 65 design, brought in to ensure crewing and tactics, rather than design and technology, are pushed to the forefront.

The teams

While Walker and Abu Dhabi Racing are not defending their titles, the other three teams to finish in the top four of the last race return.

BoatCountrySkipper (nationality)
AkzoNobelNetherlandsTBC
DongfengChinaCharles Caudrelier (Fra)
MapfreSpainXabi Fernandez (Spa)
Vestas 11th HourUSA/DenmarkCharlie Enright (US)
Sun Hung Kai/ScallywagHong KongDavid Witt (Aus)
Turn The Tide On PlasticUnited NationsDee Caffari (GB)
BrunelNetherlandsBouwe Bekking (Ned)

The Britons

NameRoleTeam
Dee CaffariSkipperClean Seas
Rob GreenhalghWatch captainMapfre
Neal McDonaldPerformance managerMapfre
Simon FisherNavigatorVestas
Steve HaylesNavigatorScallywag
Jules SalterNavigatorAkzoNobel
John FisherCrewScallywag
Bleddyn MonCrewClean Seas
Henry BombyCrewClean Seas
Abby EhlerCrewBrunel
Hannah DiamondCrewVestas
Annie LushTrimmerBrunel

The history

1973: Three competitors die on the second leg of the race from Cape Town to Sydney.

1977: Briton Clare Francis becomes the race's first female skipper.

1981: The crew of Vivanapoli are arrested after the boat is halted by an Angolan gunboat 150 miles off the coast of Africa. They are released only after a week of negotiations.

1985: Duran Duran star Simon Le Bon's yacht Drum has an eventful race. Having lost her keel and capsized during a trial run in the Fastnet Race, minutes after the final leg of the Ocean Race, customs officials with sniffer dogs board Drum to see if the crew have brought in illegal substances from Uruguay.

1989-90: Briton Tracy Edwards skippers the race's first all-female crew.

2005-06: Movistar beat ABN Amro One by just nine seconds - roughly equating to 80 metres - on the 1,400-mile third leg. It is the closest finish in the race's history.

2014-15: Cyclone Pam forces the fleet to restart a day later than planned from Auckland, with winds of over 200mph (320kph) causing chaos.

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