Hong Kong (AFP) – The world’s premier round-the-world sailing event will visit Hong Kong for the first time after the Volvo Ocean Race announced Wednesday the city has been chosen as a host port for the 2017-18 edition.
The Ocean Race, which takes almost nine months to complete and covers 40,000 nautical miles (74,080 kilometres) visiting 11 host ports, is reckoned to be the toughest professional challenge in the sport.
“For 43 years the Volvo Ocean Race has visited the majority of the world’s most prestigious and iconic ports, with one obvious exception and that port has possibly the most wondrous waterfront in all the world,” Jon Bramley, the event’s director of news said at a press conference in the city.
“For the first time the Volvo Ocean Race will be coming to Hong Kong in our next edition in 2017 to 2018,” Bramley told media at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club on the city’s famous Victoria Harbour waterfront.
The fleet of sailing yachts will be stop off at the site of the former Kai-Tak airport, now an ocean cruise terminal, in February 2018 during the 13th edition of the race and will stay in the southern Chinese city for up to two weeks.
The other host cities already announced for the race, which begins in 2017 at Alicante in Spain, are Newport, Rhode Island on the east coast of the United States, Auckland in New Zealand, Cape Town in South Africa and European cities Lisbon, Cardiff and Gothenburg. The race will finish in the Hague, Netherlands in 2018.
Organisers are yet to confirm the route and final host ports for the gruelling race which sees competitors spend weeks at sea between ports piloting their identical 65ft monohulls through treacherous waters.
Crews need to survive on a diet of freeze-dried food and a maximum of four hours’ sleep a day.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Briton Ian Walker, won the 12th edition of the event in June 2015 after covering 38,739 nautical miles in just under nine months.
Seven teams made up of members from 19 nationalities including China, Ireland, Argentina and Antigua participated in that edition of the race.