Solo around the world with stops

Eight boats and two mammoth opening legs are features of this year's race
Sunday's start gun for the Velux 5 Oceans fires for a very different singlehanded round the world race with stops to those preceding it in the event's 25 year history. First held in 1982-3 when it was known as the BOC Challenge, the race started and finished in Newport, RI, and was very much a US-run affair despite sponsorship from the British Oxygen Corporation (going still further back in time British Oxygen had sponsored one of Robin Knox-Johnson's maxi-catamarans during the 1970s). BOC quit their sponsorship of the race prior to the 1997-8 event when it became known as Around Alone. The event was then purchased by the UK-based Clipper Ventures - highly appropriate given that Robin Knox-Johnston, Chairman of Clipper Ventures, was the BOC Challenge's first Race Director. Four years ago Around Alone followed pretty much the original route with stopovers in Cape Town, Tauranga (New Zealand), Salvador (Brazil) and finishing in Newport, but with an opening leg from New York to Brixham. During the last race it became apparent that a logistical problem existed over the long duration of the race and in particular its stopovers, so this time the Velux 5 Oceans, as the race is now known, has had some stopovers axed. It now comprises just three rather than five legs and under this new format, the first two legs are massive: Bilbao down the Altantic past South Africa and across the Indian Ocean to Fremantle, Western Australia at over 12,000 miles. Then Fremantle across the Pacific section of the Southern Ocean, round Cape Horn and all the way up the Atlantic to Norfolk, Virginia on the east coast of the US, at around 14,200 miles. The race concludes with a final leg, a compartive sprint across the North Atlantic, to the finish once again in Bilbao. At