Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

Countdown begins to Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong

City celebrates as historic race starts in Alicante, Spain on Sunday with first-ever stopover to take place here in January 2018

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 October, 2017, 6:18pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 October, 2017, 11:23pm

Hong Kong joined the nautical world in celebration as the 13th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race set out from Alicante, Spain, on Sunday, launching the official countdown to Hong Kong’s first-ever hosting of this historic race.

The event marked 90 days to when the seven-yacht fleet is expected to sail into Victoria Harbour.

The Hong Kong leg will be the fifth of 12 stages on this year’s 45,000-nautical-mile adventure with the boats expected to arrive on January 20 as they complete legs in Alicante, Lisbon and Cape Town prior to making the 600-mile voyage from Melbourne to Hong Kong.

Watch: Countdown to Volvo Ocean Race at Harbour City

It will be the biggest sailing yacht event in Hong Kong’s history and one which the Hong Kong Sailing Federation believes will inspire a new generation of sailors to take to the waters.

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“The first ever Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong is the culmination of significant efforts by the Hong Kong Sailing Federation and Home Affairs Bureau to attract this premier sailing yacht event to local waters,” said Charlie Manzoni, Vice President of the Hong Kong Sailing Federation. “Hong Kong is proud to host a stopover of 2017/2018 Volvo Ocean Race.

Watch: Volvo Ocean Race promo reel

The countdown event featured a live link-up with Hong Kong’s first entry in the race (Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag) with skipper David Witt and Hong Kong-born sailor Tiger Mok as they prepared for the first leg of their journey which was to start just over five hours later in Spain.

“We are definitely shipshape,” said Tiger Mok from the deck of Scallywag in Alicante.

“We have been preparing very hard for the last few months and we’re very proud to be on the starting line this morning. It’s pretty emotional actually, for both the entire team and for [skipper David Witt] Witty and I. It’s something we both have dreamed of for many, many years.

Hong Kong’s Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag gives David Witt the chance to tackle Volvo Ocean Race on his own terms

“It’s a very emotional day and we are looking forward to it, but we just have to treat it as a normal day of sailing, like we’ve been doing all of our lives. We are just going to give it our best shot.”

Hong Kong Port Director Grant Calder confirmed the city was now ready to put on a spectacular welcome for the Volvo Ocean Race.

Hong Kong sailor Tiger Mok ready for major step up at Volvo Ocean Race

“Hong Kong is going to be treated to a visual delight with the 10-storey high yachts expected to sail in to Victoria Harbour to a cheering crowd welcoming them to Kai Tak Runway Park which will act as their home base and an entertainment hub for the Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong stopover,” said Calder.