The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race looks to be the toughest yet. The route has been increased to around 45,000nm but the race is scheduled to be a month shorter.

Teams taking part in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 will be covering the longest distance in the history of the race – around 45,000 nautical miles.

But, the 43-year-old race is scheduled to be one month shorter.

Crews will have to cross four oceans and visit 11 major cities on five continents. Around 12,500 nm of the race will be raced in the Southern Ocean alone.

The Volvo Ocean Race will begin in the familiar Spanish port of Alicante in late 2017.

Teams will race the 700 nautical miles to the Portuguese capital, Lisbon before heading south towards Cape Town and South Africa.

Then the real battles lines will be drawn as the crews race against each other across the Southern Ocean.

They will then head north again across the equator to Hong Kong – one of the longest legs in the race history.

From there, the boats will head to Auckland, New Zealand before racing back through the Southern Ocean and around the famous Cape Horn, up through the Atlantic Ocean to the Brazilian city of Itajaí.

2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race route

The route of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race


The teams will then race north to Newport, Rhode Island on America’s Eastern seaboard before pushing across the North Atlantic to Cardiff, Wales.

This will be the first time in 12 years that the race has stopped in Britain, the birthplace of the Whitbread Round the World Race, which later became the Volvo Ocean Race.

The penultimate leg takes teams around the top of the British Isles before at stopover in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The 2017-18 race will the end with a grand finale into The Hague, Netherlands.

Race CEO, Mark Turner said: “More action, more speed, more tough miles and more host venues, but a shorter race – it’s an evolution in the right direction and a move that takes the Race closer to its original roots and heritage, while improving its strong commercial value and excellent business case for sponsors.”

The Southern Ocean has played an huge role in the history of the race.

In the early years of The Whitbread, the fleet would head as deep into the Southern Ocean as possible, braving the icebergs and ferocious winds in order to shave as much distance off the route as they could.

The start of 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante

The start of 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante. Credit: David Ramos/Volvo Ccean Race


In more recent editions, the boats have raced north through the Indian Ocean, towards the Middle East – and have only returned to the south and its more extreme weather for the shorter leg across to Cape Horn.

Incoming race director, Phil Lawrence, stressed safety is always a priority.

“Of course, safety remains paramount,” he said. “With state-of-the-art tracking systems and satellite communication, alongside access to in-depth route information, we can stay one step ahead of the conditions and limit the exposure of the sailors,” he noted.

Lawrence continued: “But ultimately, there will always be danger. Sailors know they put their lives on the line when they take on ‘the Everest’ of professional sailing.”

“That’s what the Volvo Ocean Race is all about – taking the toughest conditions that Mother Nature can throw at you, and overcoming them,” he concluded.

The 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race kicked off in the port of Alicante over the weekend, with around 50,000 spectators flocking to the dockside to wish the sailors fair winds.

Volvo Ocean Race begins

Check out a selection of images from the start of this year's Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante