The Volvo Ocean Race has begun amid a storm of controversy with four crew members on AkzoNobel, including Kiwi Brad Jackson, opting out of leg one after the reinstatement of skipper Simeon Tienpont.

The saga's latest twist saw AkzoNobel submit their final crew list to race management early yesterday hours before the start of the opening leg from Alicante to Lisbon.

The Dutch team have been in turmoil since it was announced last weekend that Tienpont, the original skipper, had been axed from team due to a breach of contract and replaced by watch captain Jackson.

While the AkzoNobel crew scrambled to prepare for the race, Tienpont sought redress through the Dutch sports arbitration system.


The arbitration panel ruled in Tienpont's favour, allowing him to return to the team on the eve of the race.

His return came at the expense of three of the most experienced members of the crew as Jackson, navigator Jules Salter (Britain) and Joca Signorini (Brazil) opted out of the first leg.

The trio may yet withdraw altogether, with the team release stating Jackson, Salter and Signorini are "considering their future plans". Rome Kirby, brought in to bolster the crew when Tienpont - his former America's Cup teammate aboard Oracle Team USA - was axed, also decided not to sail.

The crew shortage required the loan of Antonio Fontes from Sun Hung Kai Scallywag for this first leg.

The Dutch team would not comment on the withdrawal of their most experienced campaigners.

"This has obviously been an incredibly difficult time for everyone involved since we arrived here in Alicante just 10 days ago. I have now reached an agreement with AkzoNobel and all parties now want to put this behind us and focus on our campaign for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18," Tienpont said in a statement before the start of the race.

"I would like to thank Brad Jackson for stepping up at such a challenging time to keep team AkzoNobel moving forward with our preparations.

"Thanks also go to Joca Signorini and Jules Salter for their contributions to the campaign so far and also to Rome Kirby. We are grateful to Sun Hung Kai Scallywag team owner Seng Huang Lee and skipper David Witt for loaning us Antonio Fontes.

"Personally, I am relieved to be back with my team and excited to be getting our Volvo Ocean Race campaign underway."

The 45,000 nautical mile race got off to a tense start on the water too, with two of the boats having a close call with the spectator fleet as they navigated the short inshore race course, before heading for Gibraltar.

The fleet is expected to take seven to eight days to arrive in Lisbon.