The provisional course and dates for the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 have been officially released by the Volvo Ocean Race committee (see below). The racing format and stopover schedule features a number of innovations the most notable sees the event conclude with an In-Port race in the finish port of Galway.
The islands of the Azores in the Atlantic, Fernando de Noronha off the Brazilian coast, and the Fastnet Rock, are all included on the new-look course.
The stopover programmes have been designed to provide non-stop activity for local visitors and international guests in the race villages of host cities.
The Pro-Am races will be first on the agenda for the weekend, where the power of the Volvo Open 70s are showcased to the public and race guests.
The second day sees the Volvo Ocean Race teams battle it out in two In-Port races, which count to their overall points tally. The short course of the In-Port races and the proximity to the stopover harbours and beaches, will allow the public to watch the racing up close.
The finale to the long weekend is the Leg start.
The start and finish ports also have a revamped schedule. Alicante will have a week of festivals between the In-Port and Pro-Am race weekend and the start of Leg One to Cape Town.
Galway will be the first finish city in the event’s history to stage an inshore race after the final leg.
There will be no scoring gates in this edition of the race but the fleet will still pass round some famous islands. On Leg One the fleet will pass the island of Fernando de Noronha, 200 nautical miles off the Brazilian coast as the first proper rounding mark of the race.
Due to increasing pirate attacks and hijacking off the coast of Somalia, the fleet will sail around an exclusion zone, which will be added to this area nearer race time.
The Fastnet Rock is the last landmark the sailors will catch sight of before their final sprint up the west coast of Ireland to Galway.
The race will visit eight stopover ports on five continents and race through four oceans, in under nine months. The Volvo Open 70′s will cover over 39,270 nautical miles racing around the globe.
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