Alicante - After some friendly jousting in the calm waters of the Alicante coast, it's time for the real racing to begin in the Volvo Ocean Race.
Six yachts will set off on Saturday on the first offshore leg of the gruelling around-the-world race, a trek of 6 500 nautical miles from Spain to Cape Town. If history is any guide, the team that reaches South Africa first will be the clear front-runner for overall victory when the fleet reaches its end destination in Galway, Ireland, next July.
Ever since the race switched to a single class competition in 1997, the winner of the first leg has gone on to lift the trophy. However, Puma skipper Ken Read said this year's lineup is so evenly matched that "I have a feeling that you can see that historical factor knocked off."
Abu Dhabi won the opening in-port race in Alicante last weekend.