Volvo Ocean flotilla leaves Alicante

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Alicante (Spain) (AFP)

New Zealand's Olympic champion Peter Burling and the rest of the crew on board the seven boats in the Volvo Ocean race embarked on a gruelling eight-month round the world odyssey from Alicante on Sunday.

The Volvo flotilla set sail at 1200 GMT destined for their first port of call at Lisbon with Spanish boat Mapfre and the Chinese entry Dongfeng in early command.

Burling, who has won the America's Cup and a gold in the 49er class at the Rio Olympics, is with Team Brunel.

Ahead of them is an 83,340km (45,000) nautical miles 11-stage journey with an expected finish in The Hague around June 25 next year.

Briton Dee Caffari is the only female skipper and the sole one to choose a 50-50 male/female crew aboard Turn the Tide on Plastic.

Caffari's United Nations-backed yacht is up against not only Team Brunel, Mapfre and Dongfeng but also Team AkzoNobel, skippered by Kiwi Brad Jackson, a three-time winner in his six previous participations.

Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag turn out for Hong Kong with the field filled out by US/Danish yacht Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

After Lisbon they head to Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Auckland, Itajai (Brazil), Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg with The Hague their final destination.