The change to the 2017-18 route, announced on Friday morning in Melbourne, means the Race will visit Australia for the eighth time – but for the first in more than a decade.
With what will be a compressed stopover, Melbourne fits between Cape Town and Hong Kong, and completes a 45,000-nautical mile route that will see the teams cover three times as many miles in the Southern Ocean as in previous editions. Cape Town to Melbourne will now make up Leg 3 of the race – a double-point scoring, 6,300-nautical mile leg. Melbourne will host a week-long stopover, but no In-Port Race, before the fleet leaves on Leg 4 to Hong Kong.
According to projections, the one-design Volvo Ocean 65 fleet will arrive around Christmas Day – meaning an extra reason to celebrate in the state capital of Victoria.
Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren commented: “The Volvo Ocean Race is another chance for Victorians to see some of the world’s best sailing teams in action. Major events are fantastic for the entire visitor economy – they keep our restaurants and hotels full and our shopping precincts bustling.
He concluded: “The Victorian Government is proud to work with a range of dedicated partners to support this stand out sailing event.”
Australia’s history with the Volvo Ocean Race goes all the way back to the first edition in 1973-74 and, in total, Australia has hosted the race seven times. The race first came to Melbourne in 2005-06 and now returns for a second time.
“We’re delighted to be visiting Melbourne again – a vibrant city of sport and culture with a strong maritime heritage,” said Volvo Ocean Race COO, Richard Mason.
“Having been born in Australia myself, I couldn’t be more excited to see the race head Down Under, and I know that sailing fans across the nation will be full of excitement to see the boats and sailors for themselves.”
The full route now features a total of 10 legs taking in 12 landmark Host Cities on six continents.
The teams will leave Alicante, Spain on 22 October and race on to Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne and Hong Kong before a non-scoring transition to Guangzhou in China.
After a stopover in Guangzhou that will include a race in the In-Port Series, the ocean legs will resume with a leg to Auckland before stopping in Itajaí, Brazil, Newport, Rhode Island, Cardiff and Gothenburg, before the big finish in the Dutch city of The Hague.
The two Southern Ocean legs – from Cape Town to Melbourne, and Auckland to Itajaí – plus the North Atlantic leg near the end of the race, Newport to Cardiff – will all score double points. The longest leg of the 45,000-nautical mile lap of the planet will now be the 7,600-nautical mile leg from Auckland to Itajaí.
The Volvo Ocean Race recently announced a series of major changes to the rules of the 43-year-old classic adventure, including a major incentive for teams to compete with mixed male-female crews. The addition of the Melbourne stopover means the race has locked in dates across the whole 2017-18 route.
The Volvo Ocean Race will give sports fans an extra Christmas present in 2017 after adding Melbourne to the route for the forthcoming edition starting in October.
The key dates are as follows:
Race Village opens – 11 October 2017
Alicante In-Port Race – 14 October 2017
Leg 1 Start – 22 October 2017
In-Port Race – 28 October 2017
Leg 2 Start – 5 November 2017
In-Port Race – 8 December 2017
Leg 3 Start – 10 December 2017
Leg 4 Start – 2 January 2018
In-Port Race – 27 January 2018
In-Port Race – 4 February 2018
Leg 5 Start – 7 February 2018
In-Port Race – 10 March 2018
Leg 6 Start – 18 March 2018
In-Port Race – 20 April 2018
Leg 7 Start – 22 April 2018
In-Port Race – 19 May 2018
Leg 8 Start – 20 May 2018
In-Port Race – 8 June 2018
Leg 9 Start – 10 June 2018
In-Port Race – 17 June 2018
Leg 10 Start – 21 June 2018
In-Port Race – 30 June 2018
Australia in the Volvo Ocean Race:
11 Australian sailors took part in the 2014-15 edition of the race: Will Oxley (Alvimedica), Phil Harmer and Luke Parkinson (Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing), Sophie Ciszek, Stacey Jackson and Liz Wardley (SCA), Andrew Cape (Brunel), and Chris Nicholson, Tom Johnson and Tom Addis (all Team Vestas Wind), Jack Bouttell (Dongfeng Race Team).
The Volvo Ocean Race has visited Australia seven times before: Sydney in 1973-74, 1997-98 and 2001-02, Fremantle in 1989-90, 1993-94 and 1997-98, and Melbourne in 2005-06.