Volvo Ocean Race Teams carry out final preparations

Team Sanya training with Team Telefonica in Alicante, prior to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 kicks off on 29th October 2011 in Alicante, Spain and will finish in Galway, Ireland in July 2012. Dockside tensions are mounting in Alicante as the countdown to the most competitive Volvo Ocean Race in its 38-year history enters its final stage.

The Iberdrola In-Port Race, a close-quarters sprint around a short course next Saturday, October 29, will mark the start of the 2011-12 edition of the world’s toughest and longest professional yacht race.

Months of preparation and training will be put to the test as the fleet of state-of-the-art 70ft racing yachts go head-to-head in Alicante Bay at 1400 local time (1200 UTC) in the first points-scoring race of the event.

With just over a week until the in-port race, time is running out for Team Sanya, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, Team Telefónica, Groupama sailing team and Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg as they carry out their final preparations.

Around Sao Miguel and the Azores in the dark, PUMA’s Mar Mostro now heads northeast towards Lorient at the hands of Tony Mutter, with Groupama in sight to leeward, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

American skipper Ken Read, who will lead Puma Ocean Racing into battle, said: 'Let's get this show on the road. Two years of preparation is finally coming to a close. It's time, we're ready.

'The team is full of anticipation; it's a very exciting time in all of our lives. I just have to remind myself from time to time to stop, look around and soak in the entire adventure because you never know whether an opportunity like this will ever come around again.'

France’s Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama 4, added: 'I’m looking forward to the first real confrontation between the boats. We are all here for that and it’s what we love. I wish we had more days to train against other boats but the rules are the rules. We are going to make the most out of the in-port race and the first days of the leg.'

The format of the race sees points scored in both in-port racing and offshore legs. In each port the teams will compete for 18 per cent of the total points up for grabs.

The rest of the points are awarded for the nine offshore legs that will see the teams battle it out over 39,000 nautical miles through four oceans. The team with the most points at the end of the eight-month race will become only the 11th team ever to win the coveted Volvo Ocean Race trophy.

'The teams will be getting nervous for sure but for those of us on the dock it’s going to be very fun,' said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad.

'Everything is ready, and all we need now is for the weather to turn up – fingers crossed for sunshine and lots of wind. The Race Village will be packed with people, the racing will be great. It’s going to be a ball.'

Alicante race village - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

The exhilaration on the water will be rivalled by the excitement of the Alicante Race Village, which will play host to thousands of spectators.

The Race Village features a host of attractions including a 3D cinema, a simulator recreating the feeling of sailing a Volvo Open 70 at 25 knots, a winch grinding challenge and a zone dedicated to entertaining children.

After the In-Port Race a prize giving ceremony will take place at 1600 local time before the Race Village rocks to the sounds of Swedish singer September from 2330.

Following the in-port race, the Legends Regatta and Reunion will see representatives from 61 former Volvo Ocean Race/Whitbread Round the World Race yachts converge in Alicante with up to 15 yachts from past editions racing from November 1 to 5.

The six teams will then face their biggest challenge – 6,500 nautical miles of gruelling ocean racing from Alicante through the Atlantic to Cape Town, South Africa, starting on November 5.

Both the Iberdrola In-Port Race and the start of Leg One will be streamed live online.

Volvo Ocean Race website