Conditions couldn’t have been better for the start in Alicante, Spain on Sunday afternoon. Mirpuri Foundation “Turn the Tide on Plastic” boat is one of seven of the best sailing teams in the world that started Leg 1, a 1,450 nautical mile sprint to Lisbon, Portugal in bright sunshine and a 15-20 knot Easterly breeze.

The bay off the Alicante sea front was crowded with hundreds of spectator boats, ringing a short inshore race course, before the fleet was free to fly off, downwind, towards Gibraltar.

They were treated to some of the most intense racing ever seen in the opening minutes of a Volvo Ocean Race. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Turn the Tide on Plastic thread their way through the spectator fleet, at times within an arm’s length of the astonished guests, before finding a clear passage out to sea.

With the start behind them, the teams will settle into the routine of life at sea, as they begin the first leg of what will be a 45,000 nautical mile race around the planet. The intensity shown during the first hour of the first leg, when the fight was for every meter, demonstrates just how competitive this Volvo Ocean Race will be.

The ultimate test of these teams has started.

Photo Credit: Jen Edney/Volvo Ocean Race