Volvo Ocean Race flags off

In its 13th year, the race promises to be more challenging and with Indian IT giant, HCL, joining in as IT sponsor, the organisers believe that the nine month-long race will be more technologically empowered.

Starting the journey from Alicante, the race will travel to major cities — Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajai, Newport and Cardiff — before finishing off in The Hague on June 30.   -  Twitter @volvooceanrace

The quaint Spanish city woke up with enthusiasm on Sunday morning as the Volvo Ocean Race flagged off at the racing port. 

In its 13th year, the race promises to be more challenging and with Indian IT giant, HCL, joining in as IT sponsor, the organisers believe that the nine month-long race will be more technologically empowered.

Starting the journey from Alicante, the race will travel to major cities — Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajai, Newport and Cardiff — before finishing off in The Hague on June 30. “The race will be more challenging. The new rules would scare the sailors as they are more competitive, but then, we get used to it," Mapfre team skipper Xabi Fernandez said.

With 45,000 nautical miles to cover, the sailors looked confident as the race began. To ensure technological facilities are proper, drones are being used for each racing ships, that too for the first time in the race's history. "That's the technological advancement the race has gone through this time. This is definitely a great development," said Jordie Neves, the chief digital officer of Volvo Ocean Race.

Ashish Gupta, the Corporate Vice President - ITO and Infrastructure Services Sales EMEA, at HCL Technologies, feels this association will mark a new beginning in the race. “The world has become hyper dynamic and sailing is amongst the most dynamic of sports. We see our association with Volvo Ocean Race as another example of our Mode 1-2-3 strategy to meet customer’s business objectives and demonstrate leadership capabilities across next gen technologies,” Gupta said.

While the focus will be on the top male sailors, this edition of the event will also see the participation of 18 women sailors -- the highest in the history of the race. With the new rule change, the teams are required to have women representation in the side. 

As the sailors from seven teams waited for the flag off near the starting line in the race port, their expressions said it all -- after years of preparation, the next nine months will certainly throw up new challenges for all of them.