Staff Reporter

KOCHI: The second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Cape Town to Kochi began on Saturday when the eight participating yachts set sail from the South African capital.

This is the first time in the 35-year-old history of the race that it is touching an Indian port. The Cape Town-Kochi distance is 4,450 miles and the leader is expected to finish around December 3. The Kochi leg represents a sea change in ocean patterns and fresh challenge for the crews. Chief among them is the threat of piracy, and the possibility of colliding with fishing vessels that are plenty off the coast of the Indian sub-continent.

Traditionally, southern ocean storms, rough seas, horrendous cold and icebergs have been the principal challenges.

At a briefing earlier this week in Cape Town, the teams learned about the new challenges they were likely to encounter, including small, unlit, local fishing fleets and the commercial traffic.