Archivio della categoria Volvo Ocean Race 2014/2015

Bouwe Bekking returns with Team Brunel for an eighth shot at glory


Bouwe Bekking, the most experienced sailor in Volvo Ocean Race history, will return to skipper the seventh confirmed team in the 2017-18 edition – and give himself another chance at claiming an elusive first victory at the eighth attempt.

No one has sailed more miles in the Volvo Ocean Race than Bekking, who made his first appearance as a crewmember on Philips Innovator back in 1985-86.

More than 30 years on, and now aged 54, Bekking’s Volvo Ocean Race obsession has only intensified.

Team backers include Brunel, the Dutch-based global project management, recruitment and consultancy company, and its founder Jan Brand. Brunel are Volvo Ocean Race veterans themselves, having had their first involvement in 1997-98.

The theme of the 2017-18 campaign is ‘Engineering the Future.’ – an initiative of a consortium of Dutch companies, including Brunel, Abel, Royal Huisman and EY. 

“The team’s goal is to accelerate the next generation,” said Bekking.

We win by bringing together experience and talent, and creating opportunities for the next generation.

Bouwe Bekking

© Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

Brunel founder Jan Brand added: “Together, we are able to define new rules and possibilities for the future. Team Brunel empowers the new generation to take the helm.”

With four months to go before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, the starting grid is almost full.

The other confirmed entries are team AkzoNobel (skippered by Simeon Tienpont), Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier), MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández), Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Charlie Enright), Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (David Witt) and Turn The Tide On Plastic (Dee Caffari).

The return of Brunel means that for the first time in the race’s history, four major team sponsors are back for a second successive edition. As well as Brunel, Vestas, Dongfeng and MAPFRE are all back after competing in the most recent edition in 2014-15.

The race will start from Alicante on 22 October, with a maximum of eight One Design Volvo Ocean 65 racing yachts in the fleet. Seven of the boats have undergone an extensive refit process after being raced in 2014-15. The eighth is a brand new yacht, built for team AkzoNobel.

Bekking has been a runner-up in two previous editions but victory has always been just beyond his grasp.

© Stefan Coppers/Team Brunel/Volvo

His first experience of ‘so near but yet so far’ came on debut in 1985-86, when he finished second onboard Philips Innovator, skippered by fellow Dutchman Dirk Nauta.

In 1993-94 he was on Winston, in 1997-98 he was back with Merit Cup and four years later he competed with Amer Sports One. 

His first opportunity to skipper a team in the event came in 2005-06 with movistar – a race that ultimately came to an end when he and his crew were forced to abandon ship in the Atlantic.

Undeterred, he came back to guide Telefónica Blue to a podium finish in 2008-09 and skippered second-placed Brunel in the most recent edition in 2014-15.

“In 2014-15 we had a very good result, a result I’m proud of, but I believe we can make further huge steps based on the experience we now have with the One Design boat,” he said earlier this year.

© Amer Sports One

The 2017-18 edition will see the teams cover 45,000 nautical miles in a race that features a total of 12 Host Cities and will finish in The Hague, Netherlands at the end of June. 

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Obsession pays


Big congratulations to Grant Dalton and his Emirates Team New Zealand team, who scooped the America’s Cup on Monday night, overcoming holders Oracle Team USA 7-1 in Bermuda.

The victory marked the culmination of almost 15 years hard work as Team NZ CEO, and Dalton, who was visibly moved during the trophy ceremony, can finally take the cup back to his native Auckland. 

Dalton is a genuine Volvo Ocean Race legend – a tough-as-teak Kiwi who has raced the event six times and won it twice, while featuring in one of the most iconic battles in Race history.

But how did his sailing journey – spanning over four decades – begin?

In 1977 Grant Dalton was studying accountancy and racing motorbikes when he saw the Whitbread boat Heath’s Condor, with Peter Blake on board, hove into view from his grandparents’ house in Auckland. That’s when he had his epiphany.

“It came around North Head with this giant yellow spinnaker and I thought, ‘Holy shit’. I knew that was what I wanted to do,” he said recently.

Heath’s Condor came around North Head with this giant yellow spinnaker and I thought, ‘Holy shit’. I knew that was what I wanted to do

Grant Dalton

He followed the tried and tested route of sailmaking and got his first round-the-world ticket in the 1981-1982 Whitbread on board the winning Flyer II as part of Dutch pioneer Conny Van Rietschoten’s crew.

In the 1985-86 edition he sailed aboard the Peter Blake skippered Lion New Zealand; and in the following race he battled Blake right to the line as skipper of Fisher & Paykel, which came in second, 36 hours behind an unstoppable Steinlager 2.

Success came again  the 1993-1994 race – when two classes competed alongside each other; the old maxi class and the new light and fast Whitbread 60s.

Dalton skippered NZ Endeavour to glory in the maxis, finishing 21 hours ahead of his nearest rival (of either class).

His next outing in what was now the Volvo Ocean Race was in 1997-1998 as skipper of Merit Cup, which finished second on the podium. He was back again in the following edition finishing third aboard Amer Sports One, but his participation will be remembered for another reason.

Its sister boat, Amer Sports Too, was led by Lisa McDonald and crewed by an all-female team and Dalton famously boasted at the start that if he was beaten by the girls he’d walk the streets of Auckland with a pineapple up his backside.

The round-the-world environment is a pure environment. Your best friends are your competitors because they’re the ones who are going to haul you out of the Southern Ocean. In the America’s Cup your competitors will bury you – legally or any other way they can

Grant Dalton

Much amusement followed when the girls came in ahead of Dalton on the final leg from Gothenburg to Kiel. Dalton duly came into harbour with a pineapple in his shorts.

© Amer Sports One

Over the last 15 years Dalton’s name has been most closely associated with the America’s Cup, although he also found time to mastermind the CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand campaign in the Volvo Ocean Race in 2011-12, when the Spanish/Kiwi combo took second place overall.

Dalton took some criticism after the team’s infamous defeat to Oracle Team USA in 2013 – one of the great sporting comebacks – but four years later, he’s finally put that memory to bed and has his hands firmly on the Auld Mug.

Recently, he compared the two races in an interview with the New Zealand Herald: “The round-the-world environment is a pure environment. Your best friends are your competitors because they’re the ones who are going to haul you out of the Southern Ocean. In the America’s Cup your competitors will bury you – legally or any other way they can.”

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‘We must act now’


As one of the backers of the landmark Turn the Tide on Plastic boat for 2017-18, the Mirpuri Foundation is determined to make a real impact on the growing issue of ocean plastic pollution.

A non-profit organisation set up by Portuguese businessman and philanthropist Paulo Mirpuri, the Foundation works across six key areas – aerospace and aeronautical research; medical research; performing arts; wildlife conservation; and marine conservation – all with the aim of making the world a better place for future generations. 

“We’ve been looking at areas where we can contribute for a better world – and this opportunity was one which was close to our hearts,” explains Paulo.

‘Creating a better world’ | Volvo Ocean Race

“Being a sailor and an amateur skipper for many years, and being close to the sea, we have decided that we should spend more time and more resources passing on the message regarding the problems faced by our oceans.”

Leading that charge in this campaign – which is also backed by the Ocean Family Foundation – is Volvo Ocean Race veteran Dee Caffari, who returns for a second consecutive edition to represent a cause she is extremely passionate about.

© Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

“It’s so exciting to be carrying a global message on a global stage like the Volvo Ocean Race – a campaign that touches and affects every single one of us,” reveals Dee.

We’re honoured that Dee will lead the boat – she shares our values and has the profile to make a real impact with our message

Paulo Mirpuri

Mirpuri himself is no stranger to life offshore, or the Volvo Ocean Race. To raise awareness of the Foundation’s ‘Save The Ocean’ marine conservation campaign, he recently skippered the former Green Dragon Volvo Open 70 yacht – renamed Mirpuri Foundation – on a 2,300-mile passage from Cape Verde to Barbados.

The six-day voyage was completed by an experienced 10-strong crew, sourced from seven European countries.

“In the Mirpuri Foundation, we believe in leading by example. Before we decided to sponsor a team in the Volvo Ocean Race, I wanted to have the experience – or at least a small taste of it – myself,” he explains.

Diversity is very important and is a value that we defend in the Mirpuri Foundation

Paulo Mirpuri

He adds: “I experienced first hand how hard sailing these boats is, and I’m now better prepared and can appreciate and understand much better what the teams of the Volvo Ocean Race will go through. I only did it for six days and these guys do it for 8 months. I can testify that it is pretty tough, but at the same time a very rewarding experience.”

For Paulo, the selection of the first – and potentially only – female skipper in the 2017-18 edition, to lead a truly mixed, 50/50 male-female boat, is key – and represents one of the key pillars of the Foundation.

© Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

“Diversity is very important and is a value that we defend in the Mirpuri Foundation,” he explains. “We’re honoured that Dee will lead the boat – she shares our values and has the profile to make a real impact with our message.”

In essence, the Mirpuri Foundation is about taking action now, to make a difference to the future.

If you bring people closer to the sea, then you create more ambassadors to carry your message forwards

Paulo Mirpuri

In addition to raising awareness around the growing issue of ocean plastic pollution, the Foundation’s long-term ambition is to write the next chapter in Portugal’s offshore sailing history.

“Portugal has long held a rich maritime heritage, and this youth-orientated campaign is a major step towards shaping the world-class future of Portuguese offshore racing,” Paulo said.

“In the short-term, we’ve agreed that the Turn the Tide on Plastic boat will feature a couple of Portuguese sailors,” explains Paulo. “The Mirpuri Foundation is a Portuguese organisation, and we’re very proud that we’ll see Portuguese sailors amongst other international team members.”

© Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

Looking further ahead, there are plans to enter a fully Portuguese crew in a future edition, even as early as 2019 – and a Portugal-based Volvo Ocean Race Youth Academy could complement a sponsorship deal recently signed with Clube Naval Cascais, which has seen the Foundation donate 10 new, branded boats to the school.

“If you bring people closer to the sea, then you create more ambassadors to carry your message forwards. It’s important for us to support the sport of sailing in Portugal, from beginners, to intermediate and then to an advanced level.

“We are discussing enthusiastically with Volvo Ocean Race the possibility of establishing a Volvo Ocean Race Academy in Portugal, in either Lisbon or Cascais. I think this would be a good way to prepare more Portuguese sailors to go into offshore racing, and honour the heritage of Portugal in the sea.”

Paulo continues: “There are three things which come to mind which are key parts of our participation in the next edition. We have a strong and engaging sustainability message, we have – potentially – the only female skipper, and we are investing and expecting to have a young, energetic team that will carry our message in a stronger way to a global audience. These three reasons make us very honoured, happy and proud.”

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Spinlock creates custom lifejacket for toughest race on water


Spinlock will be an official race supplier to the Volvo Ocean Race, after designing a unique and custom lifejacket for the 2017-18 edition. 

The link-up is part of a Technical Partnership Scheme which has seen the Race work closely with the sailing and marine industry leaders to develop new and innovative products capable of withstanding the toughest conditions on the planet.

And with the 2017-18 fleet set to race three times more Southern Ocean miles than in recent editions when it sets off from Alicante on 22 October, reliability has never been so important.

Spinlock creates custom lifejacket for toughest race on water | Volvo Ocean Race

Spinlock’s new Volvo Ocean Race edition lifejacket will be worn by all sailors in the fleet as they race 45,000 nautical miles in search of the trophy.

As award-winning designers and manufacturers of rope-holding equipment and personal safety products, Spinlock knows all too well the importance of solid design and durability – and as the toughest test of a team in professional sport, the Volvo Ocean Race proves an invaluable real-life test bench for their products.

“It’s exciting to be able to push the boundaries with a product like this, in collaboration with the Volvo Ocean Race,” said Myles Uren, Product Manager at Spinlock. 

“The speed, the risks and the loads on the boats in the Volvo Ocean Race have increased massively over the years, yet it’s the same crew that are racing them – so it’s our job to take our products and innovate in order to try and help them out as much as possible.”

The new lifejacket was designed and developed based on extensive feedback and testing by Volvo Ocean Race veterans, including new Turn the Tide on Plastic skipper Dee Caffari and two-time Race winner Phil Harmer – and has since been successfully tested by many of the 2017-18 crews in training.

“Safety is a critical element in the Volvo Ocean Race, and not only does personal safety equipment need to meet specific requirements, it needs to be functional and comfortable to wear,” explained Abby Ehler, Logistics Manager at the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard, who was also instrumental in coordinating the development of this new Spinlock product.

“Spinlock have worked with us to develop products through feedback, testing and experience, to ensure that they are both technically efficient and unobtrusive for the Volvo Ocean Race’s world-class sailors.”

The biggest challenge for the designers? To create a lifejacket durable enough to withstand mile upon mile of Southern Ocean slamming, but lightweight and comfortable enough to encourage the sailors to actually wear it, around the clock, for eight months.

“Until now, lifejackets have often been designed for the recreational sailor, resulting in often cumbersome and limiting design factors, so it’s fantastic to see Spinlock’s enthusiasm to research and design a tailor-made product meeting the specific needs of the competitive offshore sailor,” continued Abby.

Spinlock’s CEO Chris Hill said: “We are delighted to be joining our fellow industry leaders as Official Race Supplier. The Volvo Ocean Race sailors and shore support have all expressed an overwhelming desire to improve the lifejacket used and taking their feedback and detailed requirements into consideration, we are now well equipped to take our knowledge to develop the next generation in personal protection.”

Along with the custom lifejackets for the crew on board, each Volvo Ocean 65 will also be equipped with Spinlock lifejacket harnesses, safety lines, carry equipment packs and PLB/MOB devices when the Race begins on October 22nd 2017.


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A colourful homecoming


Team AkzoNobel officially christened their new-build Volvo Ocean 65 on Wednesday, during a packed ceremony in the team’s home port of The Hague.

With the whole sailing crew in attendance, and a flotilla of young Dutch sailors in Optimist dinghies, fans packed the dock to watch the arrival of the eye-catching boat – and The Hague’s Mayor, Pauline Krikke, did the traditional honours of smashing a bottle of champagne over the boat’s bow.

The ceremony is a maritime heritage which dates back hundreds of years, and is said to give the boat good luck as it sets off on its voyage around the planet.

“I wish Simeon and his crew the best with their preparations between now and the start in October,” said the Mayor. “As the Host City for the finish of the race in June 2018, we stand by all the crews and we look forward to welcoming them safely home next year.”

For team AkzoNobel’s skipper Simeon Tienpont, the homecoming event marked a landmark moment in his team’s development.

“It’s been an exhilarating moment after all the months of hard work, getting the team together, getting this beautiful boat here in this place in the sun!” he said.

The boat build has taken over 36,000 man hours (the paint job itself took over 1,400 man hours to apply) – with much of the work being completed at Persico Marine in Bergamo, Italy, before the finishing touches, deck gear and intricate branding were added at the Boatyard in Lisbon, Portugal.

Mark Turner, Race CEO, who was in attendance at the event, said: “It’s taken nearly nine months to build and complete the meticulous fit-out of this new Volvo Ocean 65. The boat builders at Persico Marine and our guys at The Boatyard have done an incredible job for team AkzoNobel.”

Now the boat is ready, Simeon’s attentions turn firmly to building his team – and he’s confident that he has the right mix of salty Volvo Ocean Race veterans and hungry Race rookies to compete for the trophy.

“We have always known we had a very big task of forming a team that can compete with existing teams that are out there already, teams from the last edition as well, so it meant we needed experience, we needed an unbelievable partner like AkzoNobel and to bring everything together in a very tight time.”

As for the next steps? Well, it’s all hands to the pump, with a transatlantic crossing on the horizon this weekend – a shakedown training sail which the skipper thinks will prove invaluable for his crew, with the start of the race just 122 days away.

He continued: “There is no rest! Today is a celebration and tomorrow we are back into it. We are sailing tomorrow afternoon. The boat has been delivered by the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard in a very good standard, but we still have some things to calibrate – the final refinements – and then we hope in the upcoming days to find the perfect weather window for us to go to New York on a transatlantic trip, which will be good for our team with different sailing conditions and we can collect proper data, we can look at our sails, our crossovers.”

For now, Simeon and crew are just enjoying the atmosphere in their home port. “In many ways, the race starts right here and now for us,”he added.

“Hopefully, when we arrive back in The Hague next June after a lap of the world, we will be in contention to win the Volvo Ocean Race trophy for the Netherlands.” 

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