One year to go… Volvo Ocean Race announced today that the next edition 2017-18 will begin on Sunday, October 22 when the starting gun is fired in Alicante and the teams set out to complete a total of 45,000 nautical miles of offshore racing, over a course that takes in 11 landmark cities in five continents over eight months.

The last edition start in Alicante

The last edition start in Alicante

Organisers revealed the start dates for the first three legs of sailing’s longest and toughest adventure on Friday, rounding off a series of 10 major announcements on the future of the Race in the past two weeks.

The first official action of the 2017-18 edition will be the Alicante In-Port Race on Saturday, October 14 before the Volvo Ocean Race itself begins eight days later with Leg 1 – a 700-nautical mile sprint to Lisbon, Portugal. It will be the fourth-consecutive time that the event has started from its Home Port of Alicante.

After arriving in Lisbon, the boats will take part in the In-Port Race on Saturday, 28 October before the start of Leg 2 on Sunday, November 5.

That will see them battle it out over 7,000 nautical miles of the Atlantic Ocean to Cape Town, South Africa. The racing will take over three weeks to complete, and will mark the 11th occasion in 13 editions that the Volvo Ocean Race has visited the city.

The Cape Town In-Port Race will take place on Friday, December 8 and Leg 3 will begin two days later on Sunday, December 10.

The decision to tweak the format of race weekends at many of the stopovers by moving the In-Port Race from the Saturday to the Friday gives teams an extra 24 hours to prepare for the rigours of ocean racing to come.

“With just a year to go, the countdown to the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 has begun,” said Race CEO, Mark Turner.

“The sailors can look forward to an unforgettable send-off from Alicante, our Home Port, and the fact that they’ll be thrown into a high intensity sprint to Lisbon straight off will make Leg 1 especially exciting.

“Our Boatyard facility is based in Lisbon, and it will be very well known to teams who will use it as an Atlantic training base in the lead-up to the start.”

He continued: “Cape Town also has a special connection with the Race – our boats have been heading there since the very first edition, back in 1973 – so there will be a lot that is very familiar before the teams head towards the Southern Ocean, which is such an important focus for the Race.”

The full route, including almost three times the amount of Southern Ocean sailing as in recent editions, was announced earlier this year.

The Race will announce the dates for the rest of the legs in the coming weeks.

May 26, 2015. Leg 7 to Lisbon onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 09. OBR, Yann Riou at work

May 26, 2015. Leg 7 to Lisbon onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 09. OBR, Yann Riou at work

In the last two weeks, the Volvo Ocean Race has made a series of key announcements around significant evolutions of the event, including a change in crew rules regarding women sailors, a new communicator that will allow the athletes to send social media updates from the oceans, the building of an eighth Volvo Ocean 65 to join the existing fleet, the introduction of bespoke new premium team bases to enhance the pit lane experience in the Race Villages and the use of M32 catamarans to increase the amount of guest sailing at each stopover. This week, news was about an intense period of pre-race qualification sailing that includes the Rolex Fastnet Race, Race Management announcing changes to the scoring system to encourage strategic risk-taking, all boats will be fitted with a hydropower generator as part of a €1 million re-fit, and an evolution of the Onboard Reporter concept to include potential rotation.