In 1972 England’s Whitbread company and the British Royal Naval Sailing Association agreed to sponsor a globe-circling regatta, which would be called the ‘Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race’. 17 yachts and 167 crew started the first race of 27,500 nmi (50,900 km), which began from Portsmouth, United Kingdom on September 8, 1973. Approximately 3000 spectator boats set out to witness the historic start.The original course was designed to follow the route of the square riggers, which had carried cargo around the world during the 19th Century. From 2001 the ownership of the race was taken over by Volvo and the race was renamed the ‘Volvo Ocean Race’. Stopover ports were added in Germany, France, and Sweden being Volvo’s three biggest car markets in Europe.