(Reuters) - The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race will be the longest in the history of the event and will take place over eight months rather than the usual nine, organizers said as they unveiled the route on Wednesday.
Navigating the vast icebergs, freak waves and the most remote expanse of often storm-filled water on the planet, the race will return to its Southern Ocean roots.
The fleet of one-design boats will cover 45,000 nautical miles. The race starts in Alicante, Spain with a 700nm journey to Lisbon before the teams sail to Cape Town, South Africa.
The 12,500nm in the Southern Ocean will test the sailors in the cold waters around Antarctica with winds as strong as 70 knots.
New Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner promised to lead the global event into a new era with state-of-the-art communications and a challenging new route.
“More action, more speed, more tough miles and more host venues, but a shorter race – it’s an evolution in the right direction,” Turner said.
The boats will head to Hong Kong, followed by a non-scoring transition to Guangzhou, China around the notoriously dangerous Cape Horn and up through the Atlantic Ocean to Itajai, Brazil.
The 19.8m (65 foot) monohull race boats will call at Newport, United States before crossing the Atlantic to the Welsh capital city of Cardiff as the race returns to Britain after a 12-year absence.
The fleet then heads to Gothenburg, Sweden for the penultimate leg and the finale will take place in The Hague, Netherlands.
Editing by Ed Osmond