Elcano Oceanic Trophy presents a new round the world sailing challenge starting from Andalucía in Spain
A new competitive round-the-world sailing challenge trophy has been unveiled inspired by the first ever circumnavigation of the planet which was achieved by a Spanish sailor over 500 years ago.
The Elcano Oceanic Trophy presents a great sporting challenge — an around the world race against the clock, and against the Earth’s prevailing winds and ocean currents, while using zero emissions with zero waste.
The westabout course, which will start and finish in Andalucía, Spain, follows in the wake of Spanish captain Juan Sebastian Elcano who completed the first circumnavigation in September 1522 after taking command of the expedition originally led by Ferdinand Magellan who died during the 1,082-day voyage.
The 21st century re-run will establish a modern record time which will be open to challenge from racing sailors and adventurers from around the world.
As required by the Elcano Oceanic Trophy rules the new challenge time must be established by a Spanish sailor. The renowned Alex Pella has accepted the challenge of replacing the record held by the Spanish Navy since 1522 with the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports of Andalucía, co-financed with European Funds, and Festina, the official record timekeeper.
Spanish Navy Admiral D. Ignacio Horcada said: “Following the 500th anniversary it is necessary to continue to promote the culture, knowledge and dissemination of the greatest nautical feat in history. After the 400th commemoration, 100 years ago, the Navy entrusted this mission to its sail training ship, the Juan Sebastian Elcano, which since then has been Spain’s great ambassador throughout the world.
“Today, due to its media and sporting nature and its clear commitment to sustainability, the Elcano Oceanic Trophy is undoubtedly the event with the best prospects to continue increasing awareness of JS Elcano and celebrating his feat at an international level.
“It´s great to see the commitment and excitement of Alex Pella and his team as they take on this challenge.”
Alex Pella will sail the legendary 33.5m maxi-catamaran Club Med, now renamed Victoria after Elcano’s ship, and with his crew will set the Elcano Oceanic Trophy benchmark time in early 2025 following a number of other record attempts, including a Round Spain / Vuelta España bid from Bilbao to Barcelona in September, and the Straits of Gibraltar record from Tanger to Algeciras later this year. In 2024 Pella’s team is planning a series of European and transatlantic records which will be announced in due course.
“The sailing circumnavigation to the west is the greatest oceanic adventure, and after just over 500 years we have the unique opportunity to enhance the value of this route by turning it into an international and CO2-neutral sporting challenge,” said Pella.
“The great thing is to be able to link this to the past, which is history, with a project for the present and the future. Leading the first attempt is an exciting responsibility”.
The Elcano Oceanic Trophy course will see Victoria head south through the Atlantic and around Cape Horn into the Pacific, then northwest over the top of Australia. Once across the Indian Ocean she will round the Cape of Good Hope and head home, via the Azores, to her starting point of Sanlucar de Barrameda at the entrance to the Guadalquivir River just north of Cadiz.
The re-use of the maxi-catamaran Victoria is emblematic of the sustainable zero emission principle at the core of the project. Launched in 2000 as Club Med the 33.5m maxi-cat went on to win The Race skippered by Grant Dalton while setting a new 24-hour world sailing record, a feat she would repeat as Maiden 2 under the command of Tracy Edwards.
Now fully restored, the historic multihull will have the chance to shine again while setting the first Elcano Oceanic Trophy record time.
The Trophy regulations state that subsequent challenges are open to all types of boats and crews. Those challenging for the record cannot receive external assistance during their circumnavigation, ‘finishers’ sailing the route can stop though there is a time limit of 1082 days, the time taken by Elcano’s original expedition.