20 July 2017

Volvo Ocean Race: the countdown begins

Volvo Ocean Race

Volvo Ocean Race competitors in action, Cardiff Bay

 by Maria Muina/MAPFRE

It’s one of the biggest and most challenging maritime races in the world and it’s coming to Cardiff Bay in May and June 2018. Here are five reasons why you should be excited.

It’s the ultimate aquatic adventure

Covering an amazing 45,000 nautical miles across four oceans, six continents and 12 host cities, it doesn’t get much bigger than the Volvo Ocean Race. Every team uses the same boat – a Volvo Ocean 65 – meaning it all comes down to the skill and commitment of the crew. No wonder it’s often described as the toughest and longest sporting event in the world. The seven teams will battle each other and the elements for a gruelling eight months, each trying to reach their final destination as quickly as possible. 

Cardiff is in good company

The Race calls in at an impressive list of cities as it makes its way across the globe. Starting out in Alicante, it heads to Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport (USA), Cardiff and Gothenburg, before finishing in The Hague.

A view across Cardiff Bay looking at the side of Wales Millennium Centre, The red bricked Pierhead Building and a cloudy sky

The view across Cardiff Bay, Cardiff

We’re obviously very proud to welcome such a major event, particularly since 2018 is our Year of the Sea. It shouldn’t be that big of a surprise though. Cardiff has carved out quite a name for itself as a sporting city, thanks to hosting events like the UEFA Champions League Final, Olympic football, Six Nations rugby and the British leg of the FIA World Rally Championship.

It’s about more than just the race

This year’s event will be the first time in 10 years that the race has made a stop in the UK, so we’re pulling out all the stops. The Race Village will be open in Cardiff Bay for two weeks between 27 May to 10 June, ready to give the teams a warm Welsh welcome after their exhausting eight-day journey from Newport (Rhode Island, not Gwent). Expect a lively carnivalesque atmosphere along the waterfront with lots to see and do, including a new ‘pit lane’ experience and the chance to get up-close with the sailors and their vessels.

Volvo Ocean Race

Volvo Ocean Race, Cardiff Bay 

 by Maria Muina/MAPFRE

Not all the racing happens out at sea

One of the highlights of the Race’s time in town is the In-Port Race, which takes place 8 June. It’s scored separately to the ocean legs but, don’t think that means the teams will be taking it easy. A good showing here can make all the difference in the event of a tie-break in the main competition. In contrast to the multi-day ocean legs, the races are short, fast and action-packed. Best of all, they take place as close to the shore as possible, giving you a taste of the action without getting your feet wet.

It could be a record-breaker

The transatlantic leg of the race is known to be one of the most challenging, with the wild conditions out at sea making things especially difficult for the sailors. It’s also one of the fastest, as powerful winds blow the competitors across the waves at hair-raisingly high speeds. As a result, there’s a chance that whoever sails into Cardiff Bay first could set a new 24-hour speed record. 

Need to know

The Race Village will be open 27 May–10 June. The Volvo Ocean Race is just one of a packed programme of festivals and events taking place across Wales throughout the year. Head to What’s on Wales to find out what else is happening.