Galway sailing fans will wave goodbye to the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on Saturday, as they head to the Swedish town of Marstrand for their next stopover. Originally, the route was planned to head North along the Irish coast past the coast of Mayo, Sligo and Donegal and across the dangerous waters of the North Sea. However, a decision was made to change the route to increase the viewing points for the public on mainland Europe along the 1,250 nautical miles course.
The fleet will now turn South along the coast of Clare, Kerry and Cork, then southeast across the Irish Sea to England. The course takes them eastwards up the English Channel, into the North Sea and finally to the entrance to the Baltic.
A special rounding mark has been introduced outside Rotterdam, which will be bring the fleet into Dutch waters, giving the spectators from the Netherlands an opportunity to see something of the fleet as it passes by, including the Dutch entry, Delta Lloyd.
It looks likely that high pressure and light air could dominate the leg, resulting in close sailing. Tidal streams running around the British and Irish headlands may cause problems to the boats and the fleet must also negotiate such points as the Fastnet Rock off Mizen Head and Lizard Point of England.
Once they pass the entrance into the Baltic, they will have the mountains of Norway to the north. This area, the Skagerrak, can produce some unpredictable weather, which should produce some exciting sailing later in the leg.