Volvo Ocean Race, an epic round-the-world competition that pits some of the best sailing crews in the world against one another on a nine-month long odyssey that includes 11 ports of calls in 11 different countries across the globe, covering more than 38,740 nautical miles in the process.
On Saturday, seven ships set sail from Alicante, Spain on the first leg of the race, which will run from that city to the first stop in Cape Town, South Africa. From there, it is on to Abu Dhabi, followed by Sanya in China, and Auckland, New Zealand. After that, they'll race across the Pacific Ocean, and round Cape Horn, to Itajaí, Brazil, before proceeding north to Newport, Connecticut. A quick jaunt will take them across the Atlantic to Lisbon, then north to Lorient, France, and finally the finish line in Gothenburg, Sweden. The crew with the fastest cumulative time between each of those cities will claim victory in the race.
The captains of the ship are all very experienced sailors, as are their crews. But for the first time in the history of the race, there is an all-femail team taking part. Each of the teams is made up of eight sailors, of which two of them must be under the age of 30. The boats also have a "multimedia reporter" onboard who is tracking their progress and sending dispatches about their performance. In the case of an all-women's team, they are allowed 11 crew members to helm their ship. To qualify for the race, the crews had to sail for 2000 miles (3700 km) non-stop to prove they are capable of handling themselves on the open ocean.
The ships have been out on the water for three days now, which is just a fraction of time in this nine-month long event. The crews have not really started to separate themselves from the pack just yet, but in the days and weeks to come, the best team, and the fastest ships will emerge from the pack.
You can follow all of the action, and keep track of the progress of each ship, at VolvoOceanRace.com.