Seven set off for nine-month ordeal in Volvo Ocean Race

Seven crews will put to sea from the Spanish port of Alicante on Saturday for a gruelling nine-month voyage in the Volvo Ocean Race.

The seven-strong entry list is one more than the six boats that competed in the last race in 2011/12, won by Frenchman Franck Cammas.

The race will have a new format this time out, opposing identical single-hulled 20-metre long boats in a multi-stage, team race around the globe lasting until June 2015.

This year’s entries will see a Chinese team compete for the third time after Team Sanya (2011-12) and Green Dragon (2008-09).

But the boat will have a Frenchman, Charles Caudrelier, at the helm, with compatriot Pascal Bidegorry as navigator.

Backed by carmaker Dongfeng, the difference this time is that the Chinese team will have a significant number of Chinese in the race crew.

Also competing for the first time since 2002 will be an all-female team under the banner of SCA, a Sweden-based manufacturer of hygiene products, with Britain’s Sam Davies at the helm, and Team Abu Dhabi, skippered by Britain’s Ian Walker.

After starting in Alicante, the race will visit Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya in China, Auckland, Itajai in Brazil, Newport in Rhode Island state, Lisbon, Lorient in France and finish in the Swedish port of Gothenburg.

At 39,379 nautical miles (72,930 kilometres) it will be the longest race to date in an event which started in 1973 as the Whitbread Round the World Race.

The seven competing boats are: Team SCA (Sweden), Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (United Arab Emirates), Dongfeng Race Team (China), Team Brunel (Netherlands), Team Alvimedica (USA-Turkey), Mapfree (Spain) and Team Vestas Wind (Denmark).