The route for the 2011-12 race is now set and the first port of call will be Cape Town, South Africa, making its eighth appearance as a host.
This marks the beginning of the port announcement process with the rest of the course due to be revealed before the end of March.
"We have received port bids from many different cities, each with their own cultures, specialities and challenges," said CEO Knut Frostad. "We have taken our time to evaluate carefully over 80 bids from ports around the world who wanted to host the event, before making our decisions.
"As we continue to improve and lift the bar for our stopovers, it is great to have Cape Town onboard sharing the same vision and ambitions."
Leg one from Alicante to Cape Town, a distance of 6,500 nautical miles, is one of the longest in the race and historically, the team that wins this leg has gone on to claim the overall trophy. In the 2008-09 race the eventual race winner Ericsson 4 took 21 days, 17 hours and 54 seconds to complete the passage.
“We are delighted that after a year of negotiations, Cape Town has once again been selected as the first port of call in this prestigious ocean race. As the past few stopovers have proved, the race is a superb platform to achieve business tourism and sporting objectives for Cape Town and the Western Cape” said Bruce Parker-Forsyth, CEO of The Volvo Ocean Race Cape Town Stopover and Worldsport, the project management company behind the last four stopovers.
For Cape Town, hosting the 11th Volvo Ocean Race/Whitbread will be the biggest event following its staging of the FIFA World Cup of football. Over two million tickets have been bought for the World Cup, which takes place throughout South Africa in June this year.
Pieter Cronjé, Director of Communication for the City of Cape Town said "Cape Town is proud to be the Host Port for the exciting and spectacular Volvo Ocean Race 2011 – 2012. Cape Town is a maritime city and growing events capital. This announcement will provide destination marketing and economic benefits beyond the staging of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
"The 2008 race stopover generated an estimated total economic impact of R308.15 million for Cape Town and the Western Cape. The tourism destination marketing exposure for Cape Town was estimated at R77.45 million. Local communities were also involved in the stopover through volunteer programmes, student internships, community days and a local craft exhibition."
The V&A Waterfront will be a perfect place for shore crews to prepare the boats for the next test in the race, There will be a full schedule of sailing ahead of the start of leg two, including the in-port race series and pro-am racing.
The European ports of call for the Volvo Ocean Race in 2012, including the finish port will be the next to be announced and the entire route is set to be revealed before the end of March.