- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

ALICANTE, Spain (AP) - The 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will be the longest in the round-the-world sailing event’s history at close to 44,000 nautical miles, and will feature a sharp increase in the distance sailed in the fierce conditions of the Southern Ocean, organizers announced Wednesday.

The 13th edition of the race, which dates back to 1973 when it was known as the Whitbread Round the World Race, will start from the race’s home port of Alicante, Spain in late 2017.

Altogether, the route will take in a total of 11 Host Cities - Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajai, Brazil, Newport, Rhode Island, Cardiff, Wales, Gothenburg, Sweden and The Hague.

The key tests for the teams over eight months of competition will come on the long leg from Cape Town to Hong Kong - over 12,000 nautical miles - and on the shorter run from Auckland, around Cape Horn, to Itajai. Both legs will take the sailors deep into the Southern Ocean.

“We’re returning to our roots,” said the race’s British CEO Mark Turner as he looked ahead to the potential for strong winds, ice and huge waves in the waters above Antarctica.

“We’re going back to the Southern Ocean in a big way, and in particular on the monster leg from Cape Town up to Hong Kong.

The short section from Hong Kong to Guangzhou in mainland China will be a non-scoring transition, Turner explained.

The official race distance is given as 43,750 nautical miles (50,350 miles; 81,025 kms). That compares to 39,000 nautical miles in the last edition in 2014-15.

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