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Bluewater racers warned about pirates

As the eight-yacht Volvo Ocean Race fleet leaves Alicante, Spain, on Saturday for the first leg — a 6,500-mile blue water run to Cape Town, South Africa — of the quadrennial race around the world, pirates have been added to the roster of hazards, according to a report in the British newspaper The Independent.

The course, which covers 37,000 miles and ends eight months later in St. Petersburg, Russia, will take competitors through India, Singapore and China — prime pirate hot spots, according to the report.

The trek through Cape Town up to Kochi in southwest India will keep the 70-foot racing yachts away from the eastern coast of Africa as much as possible, particularly the area around Somalia, according to the report. Though the value of what’s on board one of these boats is minimal, organizers warn the skipper and crew could be held hostage.

A security company will be on call 24 hours a day for the competitors and a hotline will be programmed from every boat to various naval authorities throughout the race course. Competitors hail from the U.S., Ireland, England, Russia, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina and many other nations.

— Elizabeth Ellis