Archive | Volvo Ocean Race

Man and sail overboard as Leg 0 serves up drama galore

Posted on 14 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Leg 0 of the Volvo Ocean Race served up drama galore including a man – and sail – overboard plus a surprise winner today in Team Vestas Wind to give a mouth-watering taste of things to come when the real event starts in just three under weeks.

The dress rehearsal, which does not count towards Volvo Ocean Race points, climaxed with a thrilling finish just before day-break on Sunday morning with five of the seven boats arriving within 20 minutes of each other and the sixth completing the two-day return trip from Alicante to Palma, Majorca a further 16 minutes later.

Denmark’s Team Vestas Wind finished just 10 seconds ahead of Team Brunel of The Netherlands for victory.

The seventh member of the fleet, Team España, completed the course several hours behind the rest of the fleet after making a navigational decision which backfired badly.

Sixth-placed Dongfeng Race Team experienced more than their fair share of excitement when they were forced to rescue a fore sail after it slipped overboard on Friday and then Chinese sailor Jin Hao Chen (Horace) was forced to hold on to a halyard line after falling off the boat at around midnight on the same day while working on an outrigger.

He was swiftly rescued by his crew-mates, suffering nothing more serious than a hand injury and a sharp lesson in the inherent dangers of the world’s leading offshore crewed professional race.

Horace added: “I fell in the water and I was hanging on by holding the wire. I was helped back on the boat very fast. A lot of skin came off my hand and it hurt badly but I was able to continue just using one hand.”

His skipper Charles Caudrelier underlined that this was a lesson for everyone in the Dongfeng Race Team. “He’s young and he’s learning that he has to take care of himself. It could have been a lot worse in race conditions. It’s not very funny to lose someone in the water, in the middle of the night.”

Team Vestas Wind, skippered by Australian Chris Nicholson, were surprised and delighted in equal measure after securing victory by such a slim margin. The campaign was only launched last month and this was their first competitive sail against the six other members of the Race fleet.

“If you’d have told me a couple of days ago that I would finish this way, I would have said it would have to take some luck but there was no luck. I couldn’t be happier. We learned so much about ourselves and the boat in this race – but there’s still a long way to go,” said Nicholson.

The teams will now take stock and prepare both themselves and their boats ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race’s opening on Saturday, October 4 with the Alicante in-port race.

Arrival times 
1. Team Vestas – 06:34 local (04:34 UTC) 
2. Team Brunel – 06:34:10 local (04:34:10 UTC) 
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 06:46:25 local (04:46:25 UTC) 
4. Alvimedica – 06:50:58 local (04:50:58 UTC) 
5. Team SCA – 06:53:56 local (04:53:56 UTC) 
6. Dongfeng Race Team – 07:09:20 local (05:09:20 UTC) 
7. Team España – still at sea / estimated time of arrival around 1400 CEST (1600 UTC)

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Leg Zero signals start of the significant racing

Posted on 13 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] An empty Race Village. The odd laugh and joke between rival sailors. A few necessary pre-race emergency procedures to be tested and tightened-up. There were a few signs that this wasn’t the real start of the Volvo Ocean Race. At just 400 nautical miles, this weekend jaunt to Majorca and back might pale into insignificance at the side of some of the marathon slogs of the real race. 

But ask the sailors, and they’ll tell you that it’s anything but insignificant. 

Of course, those preparations differ wildly. To some, like Team SCA, the first boat to enter this 12th edition of the race over two years ago, this weekend marks the culmination of those sustained efforts. 

A final chance to iron out the mistakes – and the nerves – before they begin to count double, on an unforgiving racetrack. 

‘I think we all are feeling a bit nervous,’ smiled Team SCA’s Sam Davies. ‘When we do this next time, the next stop is Cape Town!’ 

‘It’s really nice to have a trial run, because it gets rid of some of the more annoying nerves, and then when we go for the real leg hopefully it will just be the good nerves!’ 

At the other end of the preparation spectrum sits Team Vestas Wind. To them, announced as the seventh and final team just one month ago, this is about playing catch up. 

‘It’s not a race that we have to win – but it’s a race that we have to learn,’ said Nicolai Sehested. ‘We have to make sure that we get the maximum out of it.’ 

His skipper, Chris Nicholson, agrees. ‘It’s nice to finally square up against the other guys,’ he smiled, on the dock. ‘They’re all well-prepared, but at the end of the day I don’t think that matters.’ 

‘We’ve got a good team, and we’ll give it our best shot.’ 

Printed on the back of their electric blue boat, in eye-catching arctic white, are the words ‘Wind. It means the world to us’. 

Today was a day when the Danish boat – and their six rivals – would have been craving that essential element more than most. 

As 34 degrees of blazing sun shone, uninterrupted, down onto a sparsely populated Race Village, the wind gusted softly at just 14 knots, from a southwesterly direction. Where the fans were missing, so was the wind. 

‘That’s the biggest problem,’ sighed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Simon Fisher, looking at the forecast on the pontoon. ‘It’s potentially going to be a pretty slow race.’ 

‘It’s going to be difficult because we’ll have sea breeze today, and then, in a lot of light wind, we have to get past Ibiza. The race is all about who gets the wind first, and who gets stuck in a hole. You need a bit of luck, so we’ll wait and see!’ 

On Team España, French navigator and Volvo virgin Nico Lunven agrees. 

‘Training with the other boats is perfect, even if the weather is a little complicated to understand!’ 

‘It’s only three months since the beginning of this project,’ he adds. ‘Now we have our routine on board, I feel much more complete, even if we still have a lot of things to improve.’ 

As the teams docked out one by one and completed their man overboard and emergency rudder procedures, anticipation began to slowly flood the veins. 
This is real. Finally. All seven of these incredible boats, and too many world-class sailors to mention, in the same waters. 

Alicante, the star of the show – its famous castle sitting proud, with a front row seat. 

The one-minute warning signal echoed around the bay, and the teams stepped up a gear. 

For Team Alvimedica’s Charlie Enright, that pressure to produce is key. ‘It’s imperative to perform well,’ he says. ‘That’s what competitive people like to do.’ 

‘We’re trying to learn as much as we can from these guys and refine our manoeuvres. A fun two days ahead!’ 

The boats powered through the start line – a brave move by Team Vestas Wind seeing them clinch first place during the opening exchanges as a rainbow of sails and hulls stretched across the Costa Blanca coastline. 

Then, a massive setback for Team Brunel. Their front sail, designed to help the boat accelerate quickly, became unfurled, and they fell a long way behind the rest of the fleet. 

‘That was the worst possible start we could’ve had,’ said skipper Bouwe Bekking, his boat at the back of the group. ‘It shouldn’t happen, but it did happen.’ 

His team mate, Gerd-Jan Poortman, agrees – but remains positive. There is a long way to go and many twists and turns to come in this battle yet. 

‘We were late to start but we’re already catching up, so it’s good,’ he smiles. ‘It’s a race where the wind will drop and come back. You never know.’ 

Hurtling towards the first marker, it was Team SCA, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Dongfeng Race Team which led the fleet – and the experience of Pascal Bidégorry and skipper Charles Caudrelier saw the Franco-Chinese crew grab the lead during the turn.

It was a tight and high-pressure manoeuvre which tested the wits of the French pair to the limit, but as the red boat rounded the second and third marker, they were firmly in front position – the first of the fleet to disappear into the sparkling horizon. 

‘This is a phase when you usually don’t feel ready at all, and when all of the sudden, things come into place,’ said Charles. 

‘At this point, you know if you have succeeded in your preparation or not. We’ve sailed, we’ve trained, we are comfortable.’ 

‘We are where we want to be.’ The question is, how long will they remain there? 

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Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 – Leg Zero

Posted on 12 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source:Volvo Ocean Race] Seven Volvo Ocean Race boats set off together for the two-day Leg Zero on Friday knowing that a series of “crises” loom for all of them – and they have all been planned by the organisers.

The fleet will be sailing to Majorca and back from Race headquarters in Alicante and failure to complete the trip will mean they will have to return to do it again or at least complete any unfinished mileage.

Before the Leg Zero race starts in earnest, they will need to run through a list of emergency procedures such as losing a man overboard or major equipment failure.

The all-women’s Team SCA have even been given a special model made by Race organisers to practise their rescue procedures for a crew member swept off the boat.

Race Director Jack Lloyd explained why the event is ensuring all seven crews go through the crisis rehearsals ahead of the start of the Volvo Ocean Race proper on October 4.

“Leg Zero is a really important exercise for both the Race and the sailors,” says Lloyd. “We are able to dry run all our communications in Race Control and for the media.

“Safety of course is paramount – this Race is risky enough as it is – and we want to ensure all the crews know exactly what they need to do if things go badly wrong such as a sailor falling overboard.

“All the teams have been briefed that they need to go through these safety exercises before the trip.”

Lloyd is underlining that Leg Zero does not count towards the Volvo Ocean Race itself but the ultra-competitive teams which are more evenly matched than ever before in the 41-year history of the event thanks to the new one-design Volvo Ocean 65 can’t help but introducing some serious rivalry to the event.

“This will be a really important test for us and a chance to improve and work on a few things with just weeks to go before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race. Leg Zero is a real race, and we will be treating it as such,” says Italy’s Alberto Bolzan of Team Alvimedica.

“It will be a very important exercise in terms of the sail changes, the tactics, and it will be important to learn from what the other teams do. We are working hard from six in the morning to 10 at night, using every minute of the day.”

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Michel Desjoyeaux joins Team España

Posted on 10 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Michel Desjoyeaux is France’s best-known sailor and has won many of the sport’s biggest prizes but the lure of joining Team España in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 has brought him back to compete for a fourth time aged 49.

It is nearly 30 years since he made his Race debut (1985-86) and 20 (1993-94) after he last took part, but Desjoyeaux said he was bursting with anticipation for another challenge and the opportunity to learn new skills in the 12th edition that starts in just over three weeks’ time on October 4 in Alicante.

“I’ve known Iker (skipper Martínez) and Xabi Fernández (watch captain) since they rented my old boat for the Barcelona World Race. I really like both their personalities,” he explains.

 “I’ve had plenty of offers in the past to go and sail in the Volvo Ocean Race in one or more stages but it’s never been possible because of the timing. To be at the start of the project, was the deciding factor. This one fell perfectly for me, it’s a great opportunity.”

He says he’s particularly looking forward to racing on board the new one-design Volvo Ocean 65. “I’m learning all the time, I never stop,” he says.

Desjoyeaux’s name is the biggest but Martínez also announced three more sailors in his final race crew plus the onboard reporter, Francisco Vignale from Argentina.

Among them is André Fonseca, another extremely experienced sailor who will, like Desjoyeaux, take one of the important watch captain’s roles. The 36-year-old Brazilian competed on Brasil 1 and Delta Lloyd in the 2005-06 and 2008-09 races.

Frenchman Anthony Marchand, Spain’s Carlos Hernández and Briton Sam Goodchild complete the line-up.

The Race begins with the Alicante in-port race on October 4 before the fleet departs for Cape Town on the first leg a week later.

All seven teams competing have now announced their race crews.

Crew for Team España in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

1. Iker Martinez (ESP), skipper

2. Nicolas Lunven (FRA), navigator

3. Xabi Fernández (ESP), watch captain

4. Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA), watch captain

5. André Fonseca (BRA), watch captain

6. Rafa Trujillo (ESP), trimmer/helmsman

7. Anthony Marchant (FRA), timmer/helmsman – under 30 crew member

8. Antonio Cuervas-Mons (ESP), bowman

9. Carlos Hernández (ESP), trimmer/bowman – under 30 crew member

10. Sam Goodchild (GBR), trimmer/bowman – under 30 crew members

11. Francisco Vignale (ARG), onboard reporter

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Team Vestas Wind name crew and leave for Qualifier

Posted on 01 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source:] The latest entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, Team Vestas Wind left Southampton on Sunday, heading for the race start port in Alicante, Spain.

The team will take on the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic waters off Spain and Portugal before reaching the Mediterranean to complete the obligatory 2,000-nautical-mile qualifying distance. The team has announced their full crew for the 40,000nm race around the world. Four Volvo veterans will join former Camper skipper, Chris Nicholson. The other three members of the crew are all on their first tour of the planet. Two members of the Camper sailed by Emirates Team New Zealand crew will join their former skipper, bringing a solid core of experience from the previous event. Tony Rae and Rob Salthouse have signed on with Team Vestas Wind. The two Kiwis have seven Volvo Ocean Races under their belts already.

The pair is joined by two other crew members with Race experience, Dutch navigator Wouter Verbraak and the first Argentine to be named for this year’s race, Maciel Cichetti. Nicholson will also have plenty of new talent on board with 23-year-old Australian Tom Johnson joining Danish Volvo Ocean Race first-timers Nicolai Sehested and Peter Wibroe. To complete the team, Irish film-maker and photographer Brian Carlin will be responsible for bringing the story of Team Vestas Wind to millions of fans around the world as Onboard Reporter. Nicholson expects the crew to come together very quickly. ‘We need a crew with plenty of guys on board who know exactly what the Volvo Ocean Race is all about, guys who can hit the ground running and help make us competitive in the shortest time possible. And we also need a team that can gel quickly because this race more than ever before, will be about teamwork and making the right decisions together.’

‘We’re confident we’ve achieved just that with a mixture of huge experience in Trae (Rae), Salty (Salthouse) and myself, and guys who are ready to learn from them like Nicolai (Sehested) and Peter (Wibroe).’

Full Crew List:
Chris Nicholson (Australia) (45) - has has competed in the Volvo Ocean Race four times. He has represented Australia at the Sydney and Athens Olympics and is a six-time world champion in the 505 and 49er classes, as well as being a top 18ft skiff skipper. He finished second last time in 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race as skipper of Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand.

Nicolai Sehested (Danish) (24) - has a solid background in match racing, and recently competed in the Extreme 40 series.

Peter Wibroe (Danish) (29) - also has a solid background in match racing. He was a crew member in the Extreme 40′s and has competed in the Melges 32 and RC 44. Pete has a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences with a master’s degree in nanotechnology.

Tony Rae (New Zealand) (53) - has competed in the Volvo Ocean race four times. He has been a member of Team NZ since 1987 and has been with Team NZ for all seven of their America’s Cup campaigns.

Rob Salthouse (New Zealand) (48) - has competed in three Volvo Ocean Races, four America Cup regattas with Team New Zealand, eight Sydney-to-Hobart races.

Tom Johnson (Australia) (23) - has recently competed in the Extreme 40 Sailing series and has a strong background in Moth and 49er sailing.

Wouter Verbraak (Dutch) (38) - Navigator – has competed in the Volvo Ocean Race twice, the America’s Cup (Mascalzone Latino) and the 2011 Barcelona World Race.

Maciel Cichetti (Argentine) (40) - Watch captain, Helmsman, Trimmer – experience in Volvo Ocean Race and Americas Cup. He is a World Champion in the RC 44 sailing class and a highly sought after trimmer in the TP 52’s.

Brian Carlin (Irish) - On Board Reporter (OBR) (30) – Brian has a long history in film and photography in the sailing arena.

By Richard Gladwell,

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Dongfeng Race Team have recruited two more Chinese sailors

Posted on 31 August 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Dongfeng Race Team] It is 37 days to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 and Dongfeng Race Team have officially recruited two more Chinese sailors, the Chinese Yachting Association’s former Finn sailor, Kong Chencheng (Kong) and Liu Xue (Black). Both sailors had been selected previously, but for different reasons had pulled out of the programme. But they have shown determination and resilience in returning and have been welcomed by the Skipper Charles Caudrelier with open arms. This means there are now a total of six Chinese sailors in Dongfeng Race Team, who will rotate onboard during the race. There will be 3 Chinese sailors onboard on the start line in Alicante.

Participating in the Volvo Ocean Race is not something you choose to do lightly. You have to want it, like really, really want it. Both Kong and Black were selected from the first and second batch of selection trials, both had clear talent and both wanted to be a part of Dongfeng Race Team. Then the training started. And it wasn’t quite how they imagined.

Liu Xue

Liu Xue, also known as ‘little black’ to his friends, is from Qingdao. Originally with China Team, he was selected without hesitation by Dongfeng Race Team after the first selection trials in Sanya earlier this year. Incredibly well liked amongst his teammates and mentors, he was selected by Charles to complete an offshore training program in the Pacific Ocean back in March. This was the first real offshore test for the new Chinese recruits. “During the first offshore training in the Pacific, it was us only on the sea without any competitors, I got a bit confused and was unsure after the first few days – there were no competitors and suddenly I couldn’t figure out what the objective or goal was for this training.To be honest I found it boring!” he admits. “But then I realised that I missed the team, missed my teammates, missed this family, and missed all the difficulties we went through together. Also the Volvo Ocean Race is a really rare opportunity, and I realised whilst back in China alone, that I want to participate in this race. A Volvo Ocean Race sailor should be a team player, determined in mind with a strong body, experienced, know the boat, confront any problem that might occurred instead of escaping or turning away. This is the person I want to become.” Liu Xue took a step back from training with the team in March but has since felt he belonged with the team and after dropping an email initially to one of the French crew and then to Team Director, Bruno Dubois asking if he could return – he has been offered a place in the final race squad.

“There is no question that missing several months of training is a real handicap for Black,” explains Dubois. “But this young man has incredible talent and I can already see he is catching up., Couple his talent with his new-found determination and I know we have a future Volvo Ocean Race sailor in the making.”

Liu Xue has described representing Dongfeng Race Team and China ‘an honor’.

Kong Chencheng

Next we have Kong Chencheng who came from the China Yachting Association’s national Olympic squad programme. A superb strong athlete, Kong is the only sailor to have survived the second batch of selection trials back in February.

“Kong did the Atlantic crossing with the team and, like Black, he left straight after that experience,” explains Bruno. “It is difficult for Kong as he comes from sailing his Finn and representing China and the China Yachting Association (CYA) in major sailing events – this is a long way from ocean sailing. He is a fantastic sailor and an amazing athlete, and with more training he will become a powerful offshore sailor.”

Kong explains that crossing the Atlantic was a moment of harsh realisation as to what could lie ahead should he be accepted into the final race squad. “The transatlantic voyage is the first ever offshore experience in my life. I didn’t know what to expect and what would happen when I stepped on the boat and said good-bye to the shore crew. We have a saying in Chinese, which I think it’s perfect for me to describe that experience – ‘Suffering while enjoying’. It was difficult for me to catch up the pattern at the beginning, and I felt to live is no better than to die at some point – I felt seasick; the waves was huge and I heard them literally yelling at each other when working on the deck when I was sleeping on the ‘bed’ – we were in the middle of the ocean and I was worried what if something bad really happened, but then I realised they were just yelling and shouting because they couldn’t hear each other; work for 4 hours, then 4 hours break, then work again. I’ve never done it in my life before and I even fell asleep when I was standing/working on the deck. But all in all, it was a tough but great experience, I just hope I can evolve and learn because I want to do this.”

He then goes on to explain the importance of sailing in his life, “I can’t imagine my life without sea – there are 365 days per year, and I spend around 300 days on the sea. Yes, I admit that when you are doing something repeatedly every single day, you’ll start to hate it at some point. But when someone ask you to leave, you’ll realise it’s impossible to do so. It’s part of my life, it’s in my blood.”

Kong has admitted to feeling ‘proud and honoured’ to be representing China. “I am excited to be a part of the team that are making history.”

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Vestas Wind Systems completes Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 line-up

Posted on 12 August 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Six-time world champion Chris Nicholson, who will be contesting his fifth race, will skipper the boat and work is already well underway to ready the Danish company’s team for the race start in October.

“It’s an honour to be skipper of Team Vestas Wind. They have unmatched expertise in harnessing the power of wind and together we can use our knowledge to take on this challenge,” said Nicholson who has twice represented Australia in the Olympics.

Two Danes, Nicolai Sehested and Peter Wibroe, will feature in the eight-man crew. Sehested, 24, is among the youngest from his country to have competed in the race.

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad believes that Team Vestas Wind – the first ever Danish boat to enter the race – is a perfect fit. “Vestas is a global company which is completely focused on wind energy and making the world a cleaner place for generations to come,” he said.

“Overall, I’m delighted that we will have seven teams on the start line, all racing the brand new Volvo Ocean 65 one-design boats, a concept that was introduced only two years ago.”

Vestas has built up a powerful reputation for its wind technologies, products and services. It began manufacturing wind turbines in 1979 and has become a market leader in the area.

“Wind is our business and our passion. The Volvo Ocean Race is the ideal platform for us to engage with our customers, showcase our technology and strengthen our brand in some of our most important markets. This supports our new corporate strategy ‘Profitable Growth for Vestas’”, said Anders Runevad, Group President & CEO at Vestas Wind Systems.

Team Vestas Wind will join Team SCA, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Dongfeng Race Team, Team Brunel, Team Alvimedica and a Spanish team whose title sponsor has yet to be announced, on the start line.

The boat will face its first test on water in mid-August as the crew prepares to sail the 2,000 nautical miles qualifying distance, a pre-requisite of joining the Volvo Ocean Race which starts with the In-port race in Alicante on October 4.

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Team Alvimedica completes Volvo Ocean Race line-up

Posted on 10 August 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Team Alvimedica] Team Alvimedica have completed their line-up for the forthcoming Volvo Ocean Race by confirming Matt Noble as the final crew member.

The full line-up will take part in the Round Britain and Ireland Race, which starts today from Cowes on the Isle of Wight and includes five Volvo Ocean Race teams. Severe weather warnings are in place and conditions are expected to be treacherous.

“The Round Britain and Ireland Race is our first competition against the other Volvo boats, and one of our last training missions before we sail around the world, so we are really happy to have completed our crew,” said skipper Charlie Enright.

“We are very excited to have Matt. He did the recent Transatlantic crossing with us, and everything worked out great. So, to complete the line-up is a really good feeling and we’re ready to move forward as a group.”

The appointment of the 28-year-old Noble, who hails from San Francisco and will be sailing around the world for the very first time, underlines Team Alvimedica’s commitment to blooding young sailing talent.

Noble, the fourth American in the team, finished third at two 29er world championships and won the International 14 class world championships in Germany in 2008.

The Volvo Ocean Race, the world’s toughest and longest sporting event, starts in Alicante, Spain on October 4. Team Alvimedica is competing in the race for the very first time.

Based in Turkey and founded in 2007, Alvimedica, is a medical devices company committed to developing minimally invasive technologies. The company is a fast-growing challenger in the global field of interventional cardiology.

Matt Noble completes the Team Alvimedica lineup for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race


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