The Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 shifted into a new phase this Sunday with the start of Leg 2, a 7,000 nautical mile, three-week, marathon leg to Cape Town, South Africa.

Leg 2 is one of the iconic legs of this offshore classic, as the teams transition from the North Atlantic, through the Doldrums, into the trade winds and may even dip a toe into the Southern Ocean before the finish in Cape Town, which has already been a stopover host 10 times. Frederico Melo from Mirpuri Foundation “Turn the Tide on Plastic” is the only Portuguese sailor in this Leg.

The tactical options on the leg have been opened up this year by the removal of a traditional waypoint, the island of Fernando de Noronha, about 170 nautical miles off the coast of Brazil.

While teams often sail as far west as this to pick up the tradewinds earlier, it adds hundreds of miles to the route to Cape Town. Without this island as a mark of the race course, the shorter, but normally slower option of sailing further east, down the coast of Africa, may be in play.

In contrast, for many of the rookie sailors spread across the teams, Leg 2 will be the longest they have been at sea, and a new experience of true offshore sailing.

“We have crew on board who have never been at sea for longer than six or seven days at a time,” said Turn the Tide on Plastic skipper Dee Caffari, who is shepherding some rookie offshore sailors through their first big ocean experiences on this leg. “So they will be on a steep learning curve. This is the first one where you get a little taste of everything.”

But first there was the start, including an inshore leg up the Tagus River to the Lisbon city front, before the teams break to the Southwest for a drag race down to the warmer latitudes. The forecast is for 15 to 18 knot Northerlies – it should be a fast start.

With a leg projected to take the fleet around 21 days to complete, a solid start is key – and the boats will battle for every inch as they left the Portuguese city after a third consecutive stopover.

Photo Credit: Ainhoa Sanchez /VOR