2017-10-26 / Around Town

The Big Race Is On: Volvo Leg One in Spain

(Photo credit Volvo Ocean Race Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race) (Photo credit Volvo Ocean Race Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race) For the seven teams in Alicante, Spain the 45,000-nautical mile journey in the 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race has begun with the first leg to Lisbon, Portugal. This is the first of 11 legs for this nine-month race around the world.

Alicante turned on the perfect ocean race start for the teams with a 15-20 knot easterly breeze sending the boats on their way.

Sailing under the Chinese flag the Dongfeng Race Team powered its way into an early lead on Sunday as they set off downwind towards Gibraltar after forcing penalties on its two closest competitors.

Onlookers in hundreds of boats got a rare, up close look at the Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Turn the Tide on Plastic teams as they threaded their way through the spectator fleet.

“This is going to be such a close race, every meter counts,” Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier said before the start. “We know we will be fighting all the way to the finish.”

Before racing got underway, the team on AkzoNobel submitted its final crew list just ahead of the dockout time. The team has been in flux since it was announced one week ago that original skipper, Simeon Tienpont, had left the team and had been replaced by watch captain Brad Jackson.

On Friday evening, two days before the Oct. 22 start, Tienpont won an arbitration judgment allowing him to return to the team and just hours before start time, the team submitted an updated crew list with Tienpont leading a newly constituted squad. Jackson, as well as previous navigator Jules Salter, are not on the boat. Preliminary reports indicated that Newporter Rome Kirby may have filled an available slot, but that did not come to fruition.

“I am relieved to be back with my team and excited to be getting our Volvo Ocean Race campaign underway,” Tienpont said in a statement.

For those wanting to follow the Volvo Ocean Race progress, go to volvooceanrace.com.

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