Sunday 22nd October sees the start of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18. At 14:00h the seven teams will set off on the 1450 nautical miles from Alicante to Lisbon, competing for the first points at stake in the round-the-world race.

© María Muiña/MAPFRE

With just 24 hours until the start of Leg One of the Volvo Ocean Race, which takes the fleet from Alicante to Lisbon, the MAPFRE crew, skippered by Xabi Fernández, are ready and prepared to begin the fight for the first points at stake. MAPFRE has been one step ahead in Leg Zero, the Prologue and the in-port race last weekend in Alicante, but are well aware that they can not let their guard down,

“We have to do everything as best we can. I think that we are ready, but we know that the others are too. We are very aware of just how difficult this race is to win,” stresses Xabi Fernández.

An unusual start

In the last three editions of the Volvo Ocean Race, the participating teams in the round-the-world race par excellence, had to face one of the longest legs in the race from Alicante to Cape Town; over 6500 miles including the first crossing of the Equator, and approximately 25 days of uninterrupted sailing. This time round, the start of the Volvo Ocean Race will be quite different, with a much shorter, but no less important and challenging, leg.

After the descent through the Mediterranean, crossing the Gibraltar Strait will be one of the key points in the leg. Entering the Atlantic ahead of the rest of the fleet will give any team a clear advantage over the others, but sailing in the area is never easy, as MAPFRE are well aware.

The remainder of the leg to Lisbon, will also leave the teams open to many strategies, and has a variation from the Prologue leg, as the team’s navigator Joan Vila explains,

“After the Gibraltar Strait we have to make a lap of the Island of Porto Santo, leaving it to starboard before heading to Lisbon. This makes the leg a little longer.”

The leg course is approximately 1450 miles, involving six intense days of sailing between Alicante and Lisbon, where meteorological conditions also clearly play a vital role.

“The predictions are giving a light Levante (easterly) wind for the start in Alicante, about 12 knots, which will increase as we get closer to Cabo de Palos, and may even reach up to 20 knots at certain moments. It is going to be quite a fast and downwind start,” says Vila.

Starting point: Alicante

On Sunday 22nd at 14:00h Alicante will play host for the fourth time, to the start of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race; one of the most important events in the sailing calendar, and due to be followed in situ by thousands of spectators, who in the last few days have visited the Race Village.

At 11:40h the crew will parade to the docks, and the teams will set off at around 12:00h to head to the start line. Before the seven teams head to Lisbon, they will sail five laps of a windward-leeward course in front of Postiguet beach, and the start line will be located opposite the breakwater of the Levante dock.


Xabi Fernández (ESP)

Joan Vila (ESP)

Pablo Arrarte (ESP)

Rob Greenhalgh (GBR)

Antonio “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons (ESP)

Blair Tuke (NZL)

Willy Altadill (ESP)

Támara Echegoyen (ESP)

Sophie Ciszek (USA/AUS)

Ugo Fonollá (ESP). *OBR= on board reporter