Fears of attacks by pirates in the Indian Ocean has forced the organisers of the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race to redraw the second and third leg routes in the 39,000 nautical mile round-the-world challenge.
The boats were due to have sailed through an East African corridor in the Indian Ocean on the second leg from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi and again in the third leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya in China.
After taking advice from marine safety experts Dryad Maritime Intelligence and the sport's governing body, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), race organisers decided that sticking to the original route would put crews at too much risk.
Instead the boats will race from Cape Town to an undisclosed 'safe haven' port, be transported closer to Abu Dhabi, and then complete the leg from there.
The process will be reversed for the third leg before the race continues on to Sanya, the fourth of 10 host ports in a race that will not finish until July 2012.
"This has been an incredibly difficult decision," said Volvo Ocean Race Chief Executive Knut Frostad in a press release issued from Alicante in Spain where the race will get underway on October 29. "We have consulted leading naval and commercial intelligence experts and their advice could not have been clearer: 'Do not risk it'.