Sailors Arrive in Melbourne, Get Set to Set Sail for Hong Kong on 2 January 2018

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Sailboat arriving Melbourne, Australia, on leg 3 of Volvo Ocean Race. Photo Credit: Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race.

Established in 1973, the Volvo Ocean Race is one of the most non-stop intensity sporting events on the planet. Making 12 stops in their round-the-world itinerary, competitors will stop in Hong Kong for the first time in 2018.

More than 80 sailors from 18 different nationalities have sailed into the harbour in Melbourne, Australia. Competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, they will remain in port for several days before embarking on the next leg of their epic round-the-world voyage.

On 2 January 2018, the sailors will set sail for Hong Kong. Their estimated time of arrival is 20 January. This will be the first time that Hong Kong has been included in the high-profile competition since it was inaugurated in 1973.

Which is a bit surprising considering that Hong Kong is home of one of Asia’s most prestigious yacht clubs… But then, Phuket – another Asian port with very deep pockets – has never been included in the event’s itinerary, either.

The sailors will remain in the SAR until 1 February, when they will depart for Guangzhou, China, the next stop on their epic round-the-world itinerary.

Volvo Ocean Race Village

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Volvo Ocean Race Village in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo Credit: Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean.

Held on the runway of now-defunct Kai Tak International Airport, the Volvo Ocean Race Village will open on 17 January, three days in advance of the arrival of the 80 sailors. The 15-day Ocean Race Festival will be held through 31 January.

Entertainment will include lion-dancing, DJs, live bands, and other kinds of acts. Other attractions will include a 3D cinema, a boat yard, a test track, and various other kinds of interactive activities.

Souvenirs will be on sale – plus sailing and boating supplies. You will neither go hungry nor thirsty. There will be restaurants and bars as well as 15 food trucks vending everything from Chinese dim sum to American comfort food.

And you can be sure of one more thing. There will be photo opps – lots and lots of photo opps!

A practice race will be held in Victoria Harbour on 25 January. An in-port race will be held in Victoria Harbour on 27 January. An Around Hong Kong Island Race will be held on 28 January.

Guests will even be allowed on board vessels during the Arcadis Pro-Am Race, which will be held on 29 January.  My only question is, what do I have to do to qualify?

The Race

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Mapfre of Spain leaves Cape Town, South Africa, on Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Photo Credit: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean.

Competitors set sail from Alicante, Spain, on 22 October 2017, embarking on an epic 45,000 nautical mile voyage around the world. They will arrive back in Alicante eight months later in June 2018.

During their eight-month circumnavigation of the globe, they will cross four oceans, sail past six continents, and drop anchor at 12 ports. They will spend from a few days to nearly two weeks in each port to rest, repair their boats, and take part in various activities.

The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the world’s longest and toughest sporting events. Participants burn up 5,000 to 6,000 calories a day. It is on par with the America’s Cup and the Olympics.

No prize money is involved. Competitors compete for glory rather than cash.

The Itinerary

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M32 sets sail from Lisbon, Portugal, at sunset, headed for Cape Town, South Africa, on leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Photo Credit: Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race.

Twelve ports in six continents are included on the round-the-world itinerary …

  • Alicante, Spain – the starting point of the journey is Alicante, which is playing this role for the fourth time.
  • Lisbon, Portugal – the voyage from Alicante to Lisbon, Portugal takes eight days.
  • Cape Town, South Africa – the trip from Lisbon to Cape Town takes 22 days. Cape Town is hosting the event for the 10th time.
  • Melbourne, Australia – the trip from Cape Town to Melbourne takes 18 days. Melbourne is hosting the event for the first time since 2006.
  • Hong Kong – the trip from Melbourne to Hong Kong takes 18 days. Hong Kong is hosting the event for the first time in 2018. The former British Crown Colony is home to one of Asia’s most prestigious yacht clubs, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
  • Guangzhou, China – the trip from Hong Kong to Guangzhou takes 10 hours. Guangzhou is the fourth Chinese city to host the event.
  • Auckland, New Zealand – the trip from Guangzhou to Auckland takes 19 days.
  • Itajai, Brazil – the trip from Auckland to Itajai takes 22 days. Itajai first hosted the event in 2012.
  • Newport, Rhode Island – the trip from Itajai to Newport takes 19 days. Newport is hosting the event for the first time since 2015.
  • Cardiff, Wales – the trip from Newport to Cardiff takes 8 days. Cardiff is hosting the event for the first time in more than a decade.
  • Gottenburg, Sweden – the trip from Cardifss to Gottenburg takes 5 days. Gottenburg is hosting the event for the fourth time.
  • The Hague, Netherlands – the trip from Gottenburg to The Hague takes 3 days. The Hague is hosting the event for the first time since 2015.

The Teams

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All seven teams take part in a practice competition during their stopover in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo Credit: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

A total of seven teams are taking part in this year’s completion. There have been as few as six and as many as 29 teams in the race.

  • AkzoNobel – Netherlands, skippered by Simeonh Tienpont.
  • Dongfeng Race Team – China, skippered by Charles Caudrelier.
  • Mapfre – Spain, skippered by by Xabi Fernandez.
  • Vestas 11th Hour Racing – the United States and Denmark, skippered by Charlie Enright.
  • Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag – Hong Kong, skippered by David Witt.
  • Turn the Tide on Plastic – United Nations, skippered by Dee Caffari, the only female skipper in the competition.
  • Team Brunei – Netherlands, skippered by Bouwe Bekking.

The Sailors

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Skippers at press conference during Lisbon stopover. Photo Credit: Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race.

Participants in this year’s race range in age from 21 to 55. Included are 18 females and nearly 30 sailors taking part in the competition for the first time.

Up to seven sailors are allowed on an all-male crew. Up to nine crew are allowed if two of the sailors are female.

If the male to female ratio is equally split, the maximum number of sailors allowed increases to 10. Up to 11 sailors are allowed on an all-female crew.

A multi-media journalist is embedded in every team to allow real-time coverage of the event by supplying race data, videos, photos, and blog posts.

The Boats

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Vestas 11th Hour Racing on Leg 3 of the 2017 Volvo Ocean Race. Photo Credit: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race.

All of the boats in the competition are identical to ensure that the outcome of the competition depends on the strategy and performance of the crew rather than the design of the boat.

The Volvo Ocean 65 is a high-performance vessel measuring 22.15 metres in length, weighing 12,500 kilograms empty, with a mainsail area of 163 square metres and a rig height of 30. 30 metres.

The first race was held in 1973 – 74 under the name, Whitbread Round the World Race.  Volvo bought the race in 1997. It was officially re-named Volvo Ocean Race in 2001.

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