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Lisbon to play major role in Volvo Ocean Race

The Portuguese capital of Lisbon has been selected as the first leg destination of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race as part of an agreement that will also see it serve as a major hub for the sailing event.

The organisation’s headquarters are in Alicante, Spain, where the 2017-18 race will begin. In a change to previous years’ schedules, the first leg will be a short sprint from Alicante to Lisbon and not a transatlantic leg.

A new Lisbon Boatyard facility will also be opened in the city under its partnership with race organisers. The facility will service the fleet of boats once the 2017-18 race gets underway and will also serve as a base for all 65 race boats to upgrade from October this year.

The Lisbon Boatyard will be open alongside the existing maintenance centre in Alicante and will act as a pre-race training hub.

“Lisbon has endless possibilities for us,” Nick Bice, head of the Boatyard, said. “The building we’ll be using for the Boatyard is an old fish market. If you were to design and build a facility to undertake the upgrades to the boats, you wouldn’t be able to design it better than what’s already there in the docks in Lisbon.

“The training options are almost limitless. You can go up around the corner, around Cascais and be virtually guaranteed wind at any stage. Equally, you could train in the Tagus River to practise in light air scenarios.”

Antonio Bolaños López, acting chief executive of the Volvo Ocean Race, added: “I would like to thank all those involved for making this ambitious project happen, particularly the City Hall and the Port Authority of Lisbon together with other local authorities in Lisbon. We look forward to building on a working partnership that has already delivered two outstanding stopovers during the 2011-12 and 2014-15 races. The future could not be more exciting.”

Lisbon is joined on the 2017-18 schedule by Alicante, Cape Town (South Africa), Hong Kong, Auckland (New Zealand), Newport (US), Cardiff (Wales), Gothenburg (Sweden) and The Hague (Netherlands). More host cities will be announced in the coming weeks.