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Bob Fisher/PPL Media
Medical drama, sailing legends and extreme facial hair – it's all on show in '40 years, 40 faces', a new photographic exhibition to mark the Volvo Ocean Race's 40th birthday.

"The Volvo Ocean Race has always been about courage, commitment and the trust our sailors put in each other" - Knut Frostad

To celebrate the Volvo Ocean Race's 40th birthday in 2013, the race presents a photo exhibition with a spectacular new take on sailing’s premier round-the-world adventure.

The exhibition is running at the Volvo Ocean Race Museum in Alicante, Spain from Friday, June 14 until Feb 28, 2014.

It uses 40 images to tell the story of a race that began life as the Whitbread on September 8, 1973, and remains sport’s greatest test of teamwork, skill and stamina.

Images have come from many sources including Onboard Reporters, former competitors and race photographers, while one stunning image was unearthed via a Facebook campaign (see below for details).

As the pictures show, a lot has changed in the 40 years of the race. Denim jeans and shirts have been replaced by high-tech survival gear, the roomy wooden interiors are now austere carbon fibre shells and nude sailors no longer navigate by sextant and dead reckoning.

But the images also make it clear that the essence of the race has not changed at all. The farewells and reunions are still as emotional and the effort and exhaustion are just as complete.

Some of the sailors presented are true Legends – iconic figures like Conny van Rietschoten, Sir Peter Blake, Skip Novak and Eric Tabarly – while others have been all but forgotten. Elsewhere, we focus on fans, family members and other figures connected with a race that has touched the lives of so many.

While not every great Volvo Ocean Race sailor is featured here, and it is far from being a chronological history of the race, the universal themes are all covered.

“The Volvo Ocean Race has always been about courage, commitment and the trust our sailors put in each other as they race around the world – the knowledge that without each other, they couldn't possibly prevail,” said Race CEO Knut Frostad.

“The images here are testament to that.”

40 Years, 40 Facebook

The 40th photo came after the race launched a search for a hidden gem on Facebook and our website. Organisers asked fans to send in any photos they had concentrating on faces connected with the race, on people rather than boats.

Some outstanding images came in but it was particularly gratifying to receive a picture taken by a former competitor in the race, Anders Odelberg.

Anders competed on Swedish Entry in 1981-82 and his ‘Iceman’ photo fits perfectly with the theme – that while superficially so much has changed over the 40 years, the essence of the race remains exactly the same.

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Bob Fisher/PPL Media

1973-74: The crew of Second Life pose in stylish all-denim outfits in Australia, between Leg 2 and Leg 3 of the inaugural edition. From the photo exhibition at the Volvo Ocean Race Museum in Alicante running until Feb 28, 2014

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Bob Fisher/PPL

1977-78 Whitbread Round the World Race: Kings Legend

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Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo

Onboard medic Tony Rae administers three stitches and anaesthetic to CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand bowman Mike Pammenter from South Africa, after he suffered a broken tooth and gash to the face in a fall during a sail change on leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante to Cape Town.

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PEDRO FREITAS/Volvo Ocean Race

The photographic exhibition '40 years, 40 faces' will open to the public on Friday, June 14 2013 at the Volvo Ocean Race Museum in Alicante, Spain.

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PEDRO FREITAS/Volvo Ocean Race

Visitors gather during the opening of the Volvo Ocean Race photographic exhibition at the Volvo Ocean Race Museum in June 2013.