Sailing around the world may evoke images of the romance of the ocean. Sails full in the breeze, the sun beating down and spray from crashing waves.
But there is also danger.
The latest Volvo Ocean Race flagged off from race headquarters in Alicante, Spain, last October.
So far, it has seen seven teams battle it out against the freezing cold, mountainous waves of the Atlantic and the searing heat of the Arabian Sea.
It has already suffered its first casualty.
The Danish Team Vestas Wind hit a reef - 430km from Mauritius - in the Indian Ocean during the second leg, badly damaging the boat.
It was travelling at 35kmh. None of the crew was injured, but the boat was severely damaged.
The incident also caused some controversy as the members of Team Alvimedica diverted course to aid their stricken race mates.
In the end, they did not need to rescue anyone and gave only radio assistance. That saw them place fifth out of seven finishers of the leg. An appeal saw them get points for fourth place.
Considered one of the top three round-the-world yacht races, the Volvo Ocean Race began in 1973 as the Whitbread Round the World Race and has been held every three years.
In late December, the competitors hit the third leg of Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates.
In all, this race - the 12th edition -will cover 11 ports and 38,789 nautical miles (71,837 km) over nine months before finishing in Gothenburg, Sweden .
To level the playing field, all the seven teams sail in the same type of vessel - the specially designed Volvo 65.
Each team carries nine crew, including the skipper, and participants come from all over the world.
Currently standing in first place is the all-female crew of Team SCA.
They stormed to victory in Abu Dhabi with over 1.5 minutes ahead of their nearest rivals Team Brunel.
Yesterday, the teams set off for port four of Sanya in China. The journey will take most of January and will take them down the Malacca Strait and past Singapore before heading into the South China Sea.
This article was first published on January 04, 2015.
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