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Spectacular Sunday on tap as crews ready for the start of the Volvo Ocean Race

by Volvo Ocean Race on 21 Oct 22 October 2017
MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante © Pedro Martinez / Volvo Ocean Race

It's finally here – the official start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 takes place on Sunday afternoon at 14:00 local time in Alicante, Spain (12:00 UTC).

And after some short course racing off the beachfront of Alicante, the seven crews will depart on the first leg of a 45,000 nautical mile race around the world.

The race opens with a sprint (relatively speaking) from Alicante to Lisbon for Leg 1. It's going to be 1,450nm of flat out action, with the teams fighting for every inch as they aim to get some points on the board early on.

"After all the build-up, at last we are ready to race," said Xabi Fernández, the skipper of the hometown MAPFRE. "We are looking forward to getting into the rythym of the race."

Conditions at start time in Alicante (12:00 UTC), 14:00 local, are forecast to be moderate, with weather models suggesting Easterly winds of 7 to 15 knots. This is somewhat lighter than forecast earlier in the week. Nonetheless, the favourable direction means the fleet will make good progress off the starting line.

After 12 hours of racing, the fleet will be sailing fully downwind and should be gybing in towards Cabo de Gata to benefit from an acceleration and bend in the wind at the headland.

24 hours into the race and teams will be lining up for the Gibraltar Strait, the Rock of Gibraltar looming on the western horizon. As teams file into the narrow strait, wind strength could double from 14 to up to 30 knots, leading to frantic sail changes as teams negotiate accelerating wind, choppy waters and one of the world's busiest shipping channels all at the same time.

On Tuesday, 48 hours after the start, the sleigh ride comes to an end at the end of the acceleration zone and the fleet will be required to negotiate a ridge of high pressure, and its associated light winds, continuing onwards.

Where to from there? Race Director Phil Lawrence has reserved the right to lengthen the route with additional waypoints, if necessary, in order to secure an on-time arrival into Lisbon for the weekend.

Here's how to follow Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18:

  • Watch it on the website -- Head to www.volvooceanrace.com to catch a live stream of the action.

  • Check out Facebook Live -- We'll be live at 1330 local time (1130 UTC).

  • Join us on our live blog -- We'll be blogging all the moves and news from the racetrack on our live blog, including the best of clips and social content, from 1200 local (1000 UTC). You can find it at www.volvooceanrace.com

  • Make sure you follow us on Twitter -- We're at @volvoooceanrace... and we'll be live tweeting the action, as well as sharing the best content from the teams, stakeholders and fans on our feed.

  • Download the app -- It's all-new, full of great content and fits on your mobile phone. Why wouldn't you want the official Volvo Ocean Race app? Head to the App Store or Google Play to download it. It's called Volvo Ocean Race.

  • Come down to the Race Village -- Based along the seafront of Alicante, we've built the biggest Race Village site the city has ever seen – and it's jam packed full of interactive elements, innovative structures and loads of exciting things to do.

    Head to a vantage point -- Join the thousands of spectators on Postiguet Beach to see the boats in action, or line the sea wall for a front row seat. If you're feeling fit, why not hike up the castle for the best view in the city?

  • Play the Game -- Test yourself against the best 'virtual' sailors in the world. Play the Volvo Ocean Race Game.
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