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 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.”
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.