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The Ocean Race Course Updated With Epic Southern Ocean Leg

4th November 2021
Start of Leg 2 of the 2017-18 Ocean Race from Lisbon to Cape Town
The Ocean Race is renowned as one of the toughest tests of a team in sport Credit: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo AB

The next edition of The Ocean Race will feature the longest Southern Ocean leg in the 50 year history of the event, an incredible 12,750 nautical mile marathon between Cape Town, South Africa to Itajaí, Brazil.

This is just one of the highlights of the updated race course confirmed, which will not include a Pacific leg via New Zealand or China.

The race route for the 14th edition of the event has been designed in response to the logistical realities of an around-the-world race in a COVID-19 environment and will start from Alicante, Spain in late December 2022 or early January 2023, with the final date to be announced.

From there, the IMOCA and VO65 fleets will sprint out of the Mediterranean Sea to Cabo Verde, visiting this African island nation for the very first time, before racing down to a perennial favourite among stopovers in Cape Town.

Then, a return to the roots of the race — with a massive sojourn through the Southern Ocean, over 30 days of racing, to Itajaí, host of the past three stopovers in South America.

This will be the longest leg in the history of The Ocean Race, dating all the way back to the very first fully crewed around-the-world race in 1973.

‘We believe the 12,750 nautical mile leg from Cape Town to Itajaí is a very special element — unique in history — in the next race’

And it will also see a transit of the three great capes — the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn — in succession, without a stopover, for the very first time.

“We believe the 12,750 nautical mile leg from Cape Town to Itajaí is a very special element — unique in history — in the next race,” said Johan Salén, managing director of The Ocean Race.

“The ongoing and unpredictable effects of COVID have meant it is impossible, at this time, to do the planning necessary to ensure successful stops in China and New Zealand.”

Race chair Richard Brisius added: “China and New Zealand remain important to the present and the future of The Ocean Race, and we plan to return to both countries again. We will work diligently with both to explore ways for them to have a meaningful presence in this edition as well.

“China, of course, has a strong history of hosting stopovers since 2008-09 and was the winner of the last edition of the race, with the Dongfeng Race Team.

“And we consider Auckland to be a spiritual home for this event, with legends like Sir Peter Blake, Grant Dalton, Ross Field and Mike Sanderson, to name just a few among so many of the amazing Kiwis who have taken on this challenge. Their legacy is woven into the fabric of The Ocean Race.”

Following the Southern Ocean leg, and after rounding the famed Cape Horn, teams will stop in Itajaí to recharge bodies and boats. Then the race course will take in Newport in Rhode Island, USA before crossing the Atlantic to northern European stops in Aarhus, Denmark and The Hague in The Netherlands, before the Grand Finale finish in the Mediterranean at Genoa, Italy.

‘Not only is it a simpler race from a logistics and organisation point of view, it should also be more cost-effective and more accessible’

“This update to the race route makes it reminiscent of the original Ocean Races of the past, and I hope the delay of the start until after the Route du Rhum will entice more teams to join us on the start line,” said Charlie Enright, skipper of 11th Hour Racing Team.

“Not only is it a simpler race from a logistics and organisation point of view, it should also be more cost-effective and more accessible for other IMOCA teams, particularly those looking to build-up to the 2024 Vendée Globe.

“The confirmed course is exciting - one month at sea, racing through the Southern Ocean, on the longest leg we’ve ever faced. It’s a reminder that we will need to be at the top of our game to take it on, and allows us to really hone in on our preparations, starting with the Transat Jacques Vabre this weekend.”

Stopover dates will be announced shortly as the route logistics are fully confirmed.

“These are challenging but nonetheless very exciting times for international events like The Ocean Race,” Brisius said. “We have a clear mission ahead — to enable our sailors to achieve the extraordinary, while driving change towards a healthier, sustainable planet.

“Following on from the inaugural edition of The Ocean Race Europe this spring, the 14th edition of the around-the-world race is the next phase in our 10-year plan of events, which includes regional and global races, as well as our series of The Ocean Race Summits, designed to explore solutions and drive meaningful change towards the restoration of ocean health.

“We will continue working with all of our stakeholders: teams, host cities, partners, race fans and media to make progress on these goals.”

Entries for the race will be announced by participating teams over the coming months.

“This race course, for sailors and teams in both the IMOCA and VO65 classes, is shaping up to provide one of the toughest challenges in the long story of the Race,” Salén said.

“Over our 50 years of history, The Ocean Race has evolved with the times, but remained true to its core values. We’re looking forward to the next start in Alicante in December/January to write the next chapter.”

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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