Leg 1: Alicante to Cape Town
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing won this 6,487 nm leg in little more than 25 days, but only edged out a determined Dongfeng Race Team by a thin, 12-minute margin. With average speeds of 26.5 kph for Abu Dhabi and 24.5 kph for Dongfeng, Abu Dhabi's sailing distance measured over 400 miles more than Dongfeng's.
Early on, after two days in the Mediterranean, the teams made their way into the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar, where Team SCA made a bold move. Tacking north toward the Moroccan coast, they chose to avoid the strong currents of the middle route, sighting "The Rock" while boasting a 21 mi/33 km lead.
Approaching the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa, some teams chose a path to the north, others navigated through the center, and one chose a southern route. All sailed into the doldrums and St. Helena High hoping luck would side with them as they faced the fickle but fascinating weather patterns of the Southern Ocean.
Abu Dhabi and Brunel went to the west of the doldrums, earning them a 90 nm lead. Team Vestas Wind threaded their way through the middle with a nice breeze, turning in a third place finish. Team SCA was unfortunately stranded for a frustrating, 8-hour stretch with no wind, finishing an hour in front of last place MAPFRE, which suffered a similar fate.