Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, rounding Fastnet Rock, on leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Lorient, France to Galway, Ireland.

Volvo Ocean Race will use next Rolex Fastnet Race, the biennial blue water icon regatta, as part of the warming up strategy due to the 2017-18 edition of the round the world race.

Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, rounding Fastnet Rock, on leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Lorient, France to Galway, Ireland.

Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, rounding Fastnet Rock, on leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Lorient, France to Galway, Ireland. Photo Ian Roman

In the sixth of a series of 10 major announcements in 10 days, Race Management outlined today a number of mandatory qualifiers before the start in Alicante, Spain, in October 2017 – including provisionally a transatlantic test for all the fleet in June or July.

In August, the fleet will assemble for Cowes Week in the Isle of Wight, UK for ‘Leg Zero’, which will include the 600-mile Fastnet Race.

The Rolex Fastnet Race – always unpredictable – will take the teams from Cowes, through the English Channel, around Land’s End and out into the Celtic Sea. After rounding Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland, they race on from Plymouth. The boats will then race from Plymouth to Lisbon, Portugal to complete Leg Zero.

Teams will then tackle a brand new Prologue race from Lisbon to Alicante, where they will remain until the start of the 2017-18 edition.