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Team Alvimedica see their new Volvo Ocean 65 hit the water

Posted on 11 April 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] On the dock was Race CEO Knut Frostad who has fostered the dreams of two young Americans, Mark Towill and Charlie Enright, to launch a boat in offshore sailing’s toughest round-the-world professional event.

“This is a proud moment,” said Frostad. “Mark and Charlie remind me of me when I was their age – they have no fear and are just so hungry to compete in this race. They have overcome many, many barriers to reach this point having found the ideal sponsor for them but now, in lots of ways, the hard work is just starting.”

Enright and Towill’s success in securing a Volvo Ocean Race campaign already has a fairy tale feel – they first met as teenagers on the set of a Disney sailing movie seven years ago and vowed then to compete in the event one day.

“Today is a great moment for the both of us,” said Towill. “We’ve followed this dream all this time and for so long we didn’t think it would happen. We can’t wait to assemble our crew now and get in shape for the big start in October.”

The event at Southampton’s Green Marine boatyard also marked a major milestone for Alvimedica CEO Dr Cem Bozkurt who is fully backing the Turkey-based medical device company’s own dream of contesting the race.

“Our sailing team, initially made up of our employees, achieved significant success in a number of races after we identified sailing as our company’s sporting pillar two years ago,” he said.

“Now our target is to race with professionals in the premier league of sailing. We have set our hearts on the Volvo Ocean Race and we want to introduce Alvimedica to a broader public around the world using a challenging race which draws the attention of more than 1.5 billion people every edition.”

Alvimedica became one of Europe’s leading companies in the area of interventional cardiology after merging last year with CID, an Italian-based firm.

Now they have their sights firmly focused on the North American market and the global reach of the Volvo Ocean Race, which visits all continents of the world and 11 countries in total, suits those ambitions perfectly.

“We are in the Volvo Ocean Race because it is a sporting platform to express our worldwide business ambitions and reflects our corporate values and our passion. We’re young, agile, we love challenges, we thrive on modern technology and we firmly believe that teamwork leads to better results. That is also the spirit of the Volvo Ocean Race.”

Towill and Enright have a very full agenda now that their one-design Volvo Ocean 65 has hit the water in an event witnessed by journalists from around Europe.

They will be trialing prospective crewmates later this month with the accent firmly on young talent from around the world. Towill and Charlie are both in their 20s and will be leading the youngest team in the race.

Once the eight-man crew plus an on-board reporter are recruited, Team Alvimedica plan some hard-core training in the lead-up to the opening in-port race in Alicante, Spain on October 4.

A highlight of their preparations will be a trans-Atlantic voyage to their home port of Newport, Rhode Island which will be hosting the Race for the first time in May next year.

A week after the Alicante in-port race, the fleet sets sail for the first leg of nine to Cape Town on October 11.

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Ian Walker, skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, talks to

Posted on 07 April 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Last week, during the Volvo Ocean Race presentation in Alicante, we had the opportunity to catch up with the skipper of the Abu Dhabi-backed entry and talk about the team and the round-the-world race: At what stage is the preparation of your team right now?
Ian Walker: We just finished our first block of training. We launched the boat pretty much at the beginning of March, then we left England on the 10th of March and arrived in Cascais on the 15th. We have done two weeks of sailing and now have a ten-day work break. The sailors are off while the shore crew is going through the job list, checking everything over. It’s basically like the first service after having done a couple of thousand miles. What we have planned is to do two more blocks of training here in Cascais where we typically do three weeks on, followed by a week off or a maintenance week if you like. After that, we will sail over to America and then back to England for the Cowes Week and the Round Britain race. Is your preparation going as expected? Are you following the schedule you had initially set up?
Ian Walker: Yes, we are absolutely bang on. We had scheduled to start in Cascais on the 15th of March and that was the day we arrived. I have to say though that the boat went into the water about a week late, largely because of all the bad weather in England in January and February. The sea trials took a lot less time than expected, so we sort of lost a week and then got it back during the sea trials. As a result, we currently are bang on where we scheduled to be. How was the first offshore sail from England to Cascais?
Ian Walker: It was a really easy trip. It was basically light-air running the whole way. I don’t think we saw more than 15 knots. We had the spinnaker up or the engine on, the whole way. Despite the short time you have spent on the boat so far, what is the initial impression you have of the VO65′s, when compared to the VO70′s?
Ian Walker: As I said, since we got here we have done an additional two weeks of sailing. We did a pretty windy offshore, about 350 miles, all of it over 24 knots. So, we have seen the boat under most conditions. I think that you can’t really compare it to a VO70. The design brief was very different, so it’s not a VO70. It has similar traits, similar deck layout but for sure it’s depowered relative to the VO70. The water ballast is quite interesting, the three water tank ballast is a feature we didn’t have in the VO70′s and that makes quite a big difference to performance. It’s quite fun getting to grips with that. The rig is good, the sails are good but there are, obviously, teething problems we need to straighten out, just like in any other new boat. This is quite a lengthy process, because in order to get anything changed we need to get at least half the teams to agree and then we have to get the Volvo Ocean Race committee to agree. So, it’s quite frustrating in a way that you just can’t make the boat your own, if you like. You just can’t do all the little things that make things more efficient towards how you want them. You have to go through a process with all the other teams. There is going to be a sort of frustrating period to get through but hopefully, we’ll get through all that and we’ll have a boat that works properly.

It’s definitely a lot stronger. You can feel it upwind in waves. The boat feels very strong and I have to say, you have to credit them for a boat that came out of the shed working pretty well. I think that Bouwe Bekking did just two days of sea trials and we did three when you would normally expect to do at least two weeks! I suppose that’s the benefit of being the third and fourth boats out of the shed, because a lot of those major teething problems have been fixed. Again, it’s definitely depowered, it’s much more tippy. They have done quite a few things to make them easier to sail, the steering is a lot more balanced, the headsails are much smaller. They are very tippy boat and I think we’ll see a lot more broaching, a lot more reefing and a lot more sail changes down range. So, it’s easier to sail in some regards, harder to sail in other regards. I’d say it’s a bit easier physically.

Is the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race his to lose? Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Is it physically easier, despite the fact you have less crew than the VO70′s?
Ian Walker: I say it’s easier, mainly because you have non-overlapping jibs. You don’t have the big jib tack to do, you don’t have headsail peels with two jibs on the headstay to do, which are always the hardest peels. In addition, you have fewer sails and the sails are smaller, so the stack is a little bit lighter and moving sails around the boat is easier. When I did my first Volvo Ocean Race on a VO70, if I remember well we had 11 sails, three of which were big jibs or jib tops, whereas now we have seven sails. Without those last four sails, especially when they are big jibs in their bags, tacking is a lot easier. The stack is a lot smaller than it used to be. Having said that, they are still bloody heavy when they are wet and nobody enjoys moving them. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just saying it’s different. You just mentioned you would go through a “frustrating” period where you would be unable to make the boat “your own”. Isn’t that however the fundamental philosophy, the cornerstone of the strict one-design concept? Nobody will have their “own boat” since every single VO65 has to be identical to all the others.
Ian Walker: Absolutely, and I’m a big supporter of that. I think Volvo Ocean Race are quite right to be really strict on what you can change and I agree with that. The reason I used the word “frustrating” is that if it’s even a very small thing, such as a little rope loop to guide a rope through or to clip yourself onto, or to add some non skid by the galley. I mean, really non performance enhancing small things that just make your life easier. If it is your own boat, you just go ahead and do it. It could be really anything. It could be just making a bag to put something in. We are not allowed to do absolutely anything.

Everything is supplied by the organizers, even the food bags. If you want to make, let’s say, a bag to put your computer in, on deck, you have to ask for permission and then all the teams have to agree, so that everybody can make the same bag. What I’m saying is that it’s a process that has to be gone through. I think it’s a worthwhile process because that’s what guards the one-design nature of the boats and the VO65 is far more one-design than even a Laser. On a Laser you can put your own tiller extension, you can change the mainsheet rope, you can cut the ropes the length you want to or you can put your own compass on it. On the VO65′s you aren’t allowed to do anything of that, you can’t just cut off 2cm from the end of the mainsheet. It really is the most one-design boat ever, in my opinion, on a grand scale. That comes with a lot of advantages but, on the short term, while we are all getting used to the boat, there will be just a few frustrations. Overall, despite the small temporary frustrations, are you in favor of the move to one-design boats? Do you think the event will benefit from that? Would have Abu Dhabi entered the race the same had the previous boats been kept in this edition as well?
Ian Walker: I think Abu Dhabi would have entered but the reality is that there wouldn’t have been a race. The budgets have come down dramatically and, more importantly, teams that historically wouldn’t have had any chance, this time have, certainly, a chance in putting a good performance in some parts of the race and, why not, doing well overall.

In my opinion, it will make it a better race, and more importantly, there IS going to be a race. I think that if they didn’t make the change there wouldn’t even be a race. I really don’t think we could have the teams we have now with the previous budgets required for the VO70′s in the time you need them in order to design and build a boat. You say that budgets have come down “dramatically”. Can you quantify this? How much has the Abu Dhabi budget dropped in this edition compared to the previous one?
Ian Walker: Last time, we were one of the smaller-budget teams. Groupama had the biggest budget, followed by Telefónica and we were on a par with Camper, so one of the smaller budgets among the teams with new boats. Our budget this time is 25% less than the last race and we are operating for a longer period as well. Our budget is now spread over a longer time frame and in reality the savings are even grater than that. Let’s move on to the sailing crew. With Chuny’s announcement, your racing crew is now complete. Has the VO65 changed in anything the crew selection process? Do you need sailors with different skills compared to the previous editions?
Ian Walker: I don’t think there are major differences and if there is one, it is that we need a higher percentage of helmsmen. You still need the same number of helmsmen as last time  except that you only have eight people onboard instead of ten. Therefore, I think it’s harder to justify utilitarian sailors, like just a bowman, just a pitman or just a grinder. You need more helmsmen as a percentage of the team but I think we have a brought a similar nature of people. The people that were good at sailing the VO70 will be equally good at sailing the VO65. There is less of an emphasis on expert knowledge of people that could set up a VO70  or design sails. Maybe some of those skills are less relevant now.

The average age has come down as well and I think we have a relatively young team, compared to some teams in the past. For Abu Dhabi it has been quite nice since half of our team sailed with us in the last race, so we have some continuity. Some of the others are guys that I would have liked to hire last time but they had already signed for other teams. We also tried to get somebody from a different team in the last race. We have Chuny and Andrew “Animal” McLean from Camper, we have Neal McDonald from Telefonica or Phil Harmer from Groupama. We have a lot of discussions about the previous races, what they felt was good in their team and we are trying to learn from what went on before.

For the first time ever in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race, all boats will be strictly identical. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Did the fact you need a higher percentage of helmsmen make it harder to find the right crew?
Ian Walker: I think in particular, when you look at the Under-30′s there is lots of really good sailors. I received a lot of CV’s from bowmen and mastmen that were very good sailors but is was harder for them. I need an Under-30 that can steer and I can’t afford to have two Under-30′s that don’t steer the boat! That immediately limits the pool of people you can look at. It’s a bit of a challenge in the sport right now. When we were sailing the America’s Cup V5 boats or the VO70′s, there were people making a career being a mastman, pitman or bowman. If you now look at the America’s Cup boats, in essence you have helmsmen, trimmers and grinders. On the VO65 we need helmsmen and wherever possible the biggest and strongest guys. That is quite a challenge, because a lot of helmsmen are generally smaller because they might come from Olympic classes. There is fewer big, strong guys that have helmed in the highest level. That’s just a function of how people grow up through the sport. You said that this time there is going to be a race. How would you rate your competition? Is this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race your to lose?
Ian Walker: I don’t know, I think it’s everybody’s to lose. The big difference this time is that since everybody has the same boat, everybody has a chance whereas I think, with hindsight, looking at previous races, a lot of teams had no chance before they even got going. The race is everybody’s to lose. Having said that, the fact is that it is our second race with the same sponsors, the same core core, manager and logistics. We have learned a lot from what’s gone before, so I very much expect to be at the front of the pack, to be one of the better teams. However, we don’t know yet what is going to win this race. We don’t know whether it’s going to be the team with the best navigator or the fittest team or the team with the best helmsman and trimmers. We actually don’t know what the decisive factor is. so we are trying to cover all those bases. Looking at previous races, it was, undoubtedly, about who could get the fastest package of masts, sails and sailors.

We still have a lot to learn about what a one-design race is going to look like. I don’t know what the speed difference might or might not be. If you look at other one-design classes, even Lasers, you see quite big differences between them. It’s amazing how that can happen when everybody has such similar equipment. Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, stated that each and every piece on the VO65′s will have at most one or two millimeters of difference on each boat. If that is so, where would any speed difference come from?
Ian Walker: I don’t believe there was anything more they could do to make identical boats, in terms of full-size female carbon moulding, in terms of weight-equalizing the rudders, daggerboards, masts or hulls. I really do believe the VO65 is much more one-design than a Laser but, as I say, you tend to always get speed differences. These will come from how people sail the boat, how they trim the sails, how they set the boats up. In most one-design classes you can still change the length of your forestay, adjust your rigging but here you cannot even do that. What you do is pull your sails in and point and shoot. It’s going to be very interesting to see what differences there are. The race route is practically identical to last time. Does the fact the VO65 is slower than the VO70 make any difference? Will that imply any changes into your strategy?
Ian Walker: We will take more food [laughs]! We haven’t sailed on all points of sail but I would say the VO65 feels pretty good in the light air, so it’s not far off in light winds. It has less righting moment, so it will definitely be slower upwind and reaching, by a significant margin, I’d say. I think the VO65 could be quite quick off the wind, so I think we could still see some big mileages on the wider angles. I think the struggle will be in the tighter angles and in lighter winds maybe because the jibs are smaller. That will all unfold soon.

If the boats are a bit slower that might keep them closer together and make even better racing. However, it still is a fast boat, a grand-prix boat and everybody looking at it don’t really see any difference between this one and the VO70. Don’t forget either that the VO70 was a pretty radical machine that had a lot of problems that came with it in terms of breakages and risk for the crews. The VO65 is a step in the direction they want to go.

Will the VO65′s make the Volvo Ocean Race a closer race? Who wouldn’t love to see seven boats finishing a few minutes apart from each other after crossing the Pacific Ocean? Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing In what regards the breakages and the one-design rule what is the procedure if you, unfortunately, suffer from a breakage in the middle of the Pacific? What can you repair and fix onboard a VO65?
Ian Walker: I think that if we had to do something unorthodox in order to finish the leg because of a breakage, I think that would be fine in the eyes of the measurers. Let me give you an example. Normally, you have to fly the J1 from the J1 halyard, the J2 from the J2 halyard, etc. Let’s say we destroyed a lock or lost the halyard, I think we would be allowed to re-rig another halyard in its place, as a temporary repair. Once you finish the leg and reach the stopover, will the “Shared Services” team take over and revert the boat to its original state?
Ian Walker: The work on the boat in the stopover is partly going to be done by shared services or the “boatyard”, as they call it, and partly by our team. Essentially, our own team is going to be responsible for it but, certainly, the parts we all have from common suppliers, such as the keel hydraulics, the Volvo engine or the Harken winches, will be serviced by the “boatyard”. The same technicians will treat all of the boats. There are other areas which we will do ourselves, internally, such as servicing the deck gear, cleaning, maybe even repainting the bulb or the finn. It’s a little bit of a mixture. Some will be done by VOR suppliers, under VOR’s management, and some by our won team.

The sails are a good example. Let’s say we rip a sail in half. That sail repair will be done by North Sails on behalf of the race organizers. At the same time, we will be responsible for giving the sailmakers the list of repairs they need to do, how to handle our own branding on the sails, repair the sail bags. There are elements of sailmaking and management we will need to do ourselves and elements that need to be done by organizers. How much shore crew do you need then?
Ian Walker: We have six shore crew, in the true essence of the word. We have two boatbuilders, one of whom concentrates on the engineering, one rigger, a shore manager, a sailmaker and another young person that is in charge of the rib and helps all round. In the last race we had twelve. On top of that, we have a chef, a physio, a commercial team, a logistics person, an accountant, a person in charge of food and clothing, a PR and communications person and a general manager. Our total number is 24 people that will be travelling with the team, compared to close to 40 in the last race.

Don’t forget there is a big feat to VOR for shared services. Last time we had a guy whose job was to service the winches and deck gear and this time we don’t since the VOR employs one to do that job for all the teams. Last time we might have flown in a Cariboni engineer to do a day and a half of servicing of the keel hydraulics and then the same person would have gone and do one or two more teams or other teams might have flown in their own engineer. It is much more efficient now since there is an economy of scale.

The biggest saving, potentially, is in the spares you carry. Last time, every team had their own spare mast while now the organization has three spare masts. What will happen if the breakages on the boats are more than the spares available? Has this been contemplated by the organiztion?
Ian Walker: It’s a risk and something the shore managers are discussing. If we get spares of everything for everybody they we might just as well buy them ourselves. The reality is that we are NOT going to break all the masts in the fleet and the worst-case scenario, in what regards masts, could be two boats hitting their rigs in an in-port race. Potentially, the worst scenario is two masts falling down in a collision. But even in the previous races, that would have been a big drama. It’s not that teams had their masts sitting their, on the ground. I think the plan they have now is to have one mast stationed in Europe, another one stationed at the Dubai airport and a third one in Auckland. We would be pretty unlucky to break three masts in the time frame of not being able to build a new one, especially given the fact, the design of the mast and rigging is more conservative than previously. Everything has been designed and built much more conservatively, so that doesn’t keep awake at night! Is there anything that keeps you awake at night in what regards the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing?
Ian Walker: Right now, nothing keeps me awake at night. We have a very strong team, a very nice of people and it’s a pleasure to come to work. We have a very good shore team, the sponsors are right behind us and everybody believes in what we are trying to do. For the moment, everything is fine. Once racing starts, it all comes down to how well you do on the water. Everybody is happy when you win and nobody is happy when you don’t win.

If there is one thing that is always on my mind at the moment is to work out what is important and what isn’t, what is going to be the difference between the team that wins and the ones that don’t win!

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Volvo Ocean Race: “Crop for diversity” and “urban connectives”

Posted on 03 April 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Three days ago, on April 1st, we had the opportunity to assist in the opening session of the conference the Volvo Ocean Race and all its stakeholders are holding in Alicante. It is a a four-day meeting, until Friday, where nearly 200 people from the organization, teams, sponsors and stopover cities, gather to discuss all aspects of the round-the-world race. It is meant to provide a platform for debate and exchange among all participants and a means for the organization to convey its ideas and philosophy on the race.

Unlike the previous editions, media were allowed to participate in the first hour of the conference and listen to a nearly one-hour long speech by Knut Frostad. Although we didn’t learn anything extraordinary, it is always interesting to listen to the CEO of what is considered to be one of the top three events of the sport, together with the America’s Cup and the Olympics. Whatever Frostad and his team decide to implement, certainly has an impact on the sport overall. Their success or failure will, undoubtedly, have a positive or negative result.

Seven entries confirmed – Sixth team with “Spanish flavor” to be announced soon

Frostad opened his speech by being adamant on the fact that seven boats will be on the starting line next October in Alicante and admitted it would be too late now for an eighth entry as their boat would be ready. Although he didn’t reveal the identity of the two remaining teams to be presented, he hinted that the sixth entry would have a “Spanish flavor”. No information whatsoever was given in regards to the seventh entry.

The conference agenda


As one can observe from the conference agenda, and as it was repeated countless of times by Frostad in his opening speech, the fundamental axis of the race’s communication policy and philosophy in this edition is storytelling. Stories will be the cornerstone around which the race will evolve. As Frostad pointed out, gone are the days of frequent race updates and press releases where navigators would go on and on, saying “today we lost 10 miles” or “today we gained 15 miles”. This will be the “human” edition of the race. With all boats being strictly equal, technology now becomes nearly irrelevant and sailors, the “human factor”, will take center stage. Frostad boasted he had the best storytellers in business that would produce very attractive and interesting content. The most important issue for him is to engage the audience with stories that go well beyond the conventional sailing jargon and try to win sailing and non-sailing fans alike.

All that sounds wonderful if it weren’t for the fact it isn’t the first time Frostad made those claims. In fact, the “human stories” are always mentioned in his speeches at the World Yacht Racing Forum. In addition, even if we are six months away from the start, the stories by the onboard reporters have been dismal so far, especially at Team Brunel. Here is an example. The Dutch team, skippered by Bouwe Bekking, achieved a remarkable feat on their delivery from Southampton to Lanzarote, just a week after receiving their brand new boat from Green Marine.

They sailed 540 miles in 24 hours, that is 56 miles, or less than 10%, short of the 596.6nm world record established by the Volvo Open 70 Ericsson 4 in 2008. This is an astonishing figure for a crew going through a selection process on a brand new boat that no sailor has ever sailed before. Wasn’t that story important enough for Feike Essink, the team’s onboard reporter, to write about? Where are the videos or photos taken during that achievement? Where are the videos of the helmsman commenting while the Brunel VO65 is being slammed by winds of 45 knots? What about photos and videos from inside the boat when sailors come back from their watch, wet and exhausted? Or the rookies talking about their maiden experience in what is supposed to be the premier round-the-world race? Aren’t these “engaging stories”?

Instead the “stories” and photos on the Team Brunel website are about what groceries they went buying in Lanzarote, what paella they ate or the arrival of a new recruit at the Lanzarote airport! In an increasingly image-driven world of communication, the only video there is, doesn’t last more than 25 seconds… We wish them good luck if they think this kind of content will engage non-sailors.

Instead of boats and sailors being slammed by 45-knot winds that’s the kind of photos the “world’s best storytellers” publish… Good luck with that

Urban connectives

If you scratch your head, trying to figure out who the urban connectives are, don’t worry. As Frostad confessed himself, he didn’t have the slightest clue until recently. However, urban connectives will now become one of the primary targets of the Volvo Ocean Race communication strategy. Apparently, the are people that might have nothing to do with the race or even sailing but they are considered to be very influential and followed by hundreds of thousands of people. According to Frostad, they are mostly critical but when they endorse a view or opinion, their followers will do as well. As a result, if urban connectors get hooked on the Volvo Ocean Race, millions of people around the world will follow suit.

That might very well be a brilliant strategy but it certainly will not be easy and to our humble opinion it won’t be done thanks to the stories being told so far. Maybe it still is too early to make a judgement but it reminds us of the same strategy the 34th America’s Cup was envisioning in 2011 when it was even prohibited using the terms port, starboard or knots but instead the mainstream left, right or km/h. A year later, and after millions of dollars spent, they realized that no matter how much they wanted to deny it, sailing had its own terms and switched back to them. It is a slippery path to follow when one thinks that by alienating your core audience you hope you will attract non-fans. At least, Frostad stressed more than once that he and his organization love sailing and that the Volvo Ocean Race will remain first and foremost a sailing event.

Again, the “human factor” is an excellent idea and the all-women team could be a fantastic tool but still there is hardly anything from there.

“Crop for diversity” and Instagram filters

This is the point that puzzled us. Given the date, April 1st, we thought Frostad was joking as we couldn’t believe the CEO of a major, global sporting event would spend more than 1 second on such a frivolous issue. However, Frostad dwelled on that and even mentioned it as a key communication policy!! What is “Crop for diversity”? It is the, apparently, magic solution that allows us to make ten photos out of one. According to Frostad, the Volvo Ocean Race will attend the needs of its different audiences with the same photo by cropping it in different ways. As one can observe from the photo here below, the photo of Camper’s helmsman in the previous edition of the race has been multiplied by seven.

How anyone can really think this is something to be proud of and present it in a conference that gathers the event’s stakeholder is beyond our understanding. Not to be outdone, Frostad went on, stating that another innovative communication and marketing strategy will now be the application of Instagram-like filters on the photos. While so far, it was unthinkable to retouch a photographer’s work, apparently the application of filters will engage more audience. Depending on what your target is, you apply the corresponding filter and you have an impacting photo. Again, we are bewildered by such statements. If it were so easy to attract fans and non-fans any other sport can also do it, rendering void any advantage it might have… We can’t even believe those slides made it to Frostad’s presentation.

Despite our criticism, we sincerely hope the Volvo Ocean Race, as well as any sailing event, becomes much more popular. Everybody, including ourselves, will benefit from such a success. Let’s hope Knut Frostad didn’t over-promise and then under-deliver a year from now…

How do you make ten photos out of one? You crop it in ten different ways…

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Dongfeng VO65 changes course, heads back to Hong Kong

Posted on 31 March 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Dongfeng Race Team] Change of course for Charles Caudrelier and his crew on board the Volvo Ocean 65 Dongfeng, now heading for Hong Kong as forecasted weather scuppers plan to complete training leg to Auckland, New Zealand in time. But now there is time for some fast downwind and reaching conditions, as the training of the Chinese crew and boat work-up continues in earnest…

Best-laid plans are not easily adhered to in the sport of offshore sailing and such is the case for the Volvo Ocean 65 Dongfeng currently on their training leg from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. Charles Caudrelier and his crew left Sanya on 22nd March with an estimated time of arrival around the 8th – 10th April. Donfgeng faced strong upwind conditions of around 20-25 knots which have eased in the last few days as Dongfeng gained more miles to the east but, unfortunately, the latest weather information reveals more upwind in lighter airs, and the estimated time of arrival to Auckland extending by another 10-12 days. Ultimately there is now a risk Dongfeng could miss her shipping date from Auckland to take her to the States.

The decision has been taken to instead sail to Hong Kong to take advantage of the good downwind weather conditions and training optimisation for the Chinese crew on board: “We are in a training session and not in delivery mode from point A to B,” said Team Principal, Bruno Dubois. “We managed to accumulate a lot of upwind data so far in order to optimise our sail cross over, but for the last two days we have been sailing on port tack in 10 knots of breeze with little to do – this is not the Volvo Ocean Race nor the best way to train our Chinese crew.

“We have been looking at the routing to reach New Zealand and the weather is simply not looking good enough to justify spending another 20 days in that direction and risk the chance of missing our shipping date. Our plan is now to stay in the good breeze we have in this part of the ocean to achieve good downwind tests and push our crew more,” concluded Dubois.

The Dongfeng Race Team VO65 makes a U-turn and heads back to Hong Kong, scrapping the plan to sail to Auckland. Photo copyright Victor Fraile / Dongfeng Race Team

The team are, of course, disappointed not to pit stop in Auckland this time and thank the Volvo Ocean Race Auckland Stopover and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron for their support and help in planning for the team’s arrival. The distance to Hong Kong is approximately 1,800 miles but Charles and the crew plan to make good use of these downwind conditions: “We have a new testing plan and we have a lot of work to do on the next days,” wrote Charles. “We will work on crossover between the different gennakers and our downwind VMG in 8-16 knots. We have a lot of work to find the good trimming in this range with the sail trim but also keel trim. We will also have the chance to do many manoeuvres and ‘peeling’ exercises with my Chinese crew as we change between the different types of sails, downwind and reaching. To achieve that we go now straight in the direction of the Philippines with the goal to spend more time in the strong wind between Taiwan and Philippines.”

The team plan to arrive in Hong Kong around 8th to 10th April and ship the boat directly to the USA ahead of their planned transatlantic in full race mode.

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Legendary Spanish sailor ‘Chuny’ completes Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing line-up

Posted on 27 March 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing] Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) – Abu Dhabi’s contesting squad for the 2014/2015 round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race – has completed its eight-man crew line-up with the signing of Spain’s Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermúdez de Castro Muñoz.

A Volvo Ocean Race veteran, 44-year-old ‘Chuny’ has now joined the team at its Portuguese training base in Cascais.

‘Chuny’ is one of Spain’s most accomplished professional sailors having represented his country at the Athens 2004 Olympics and raced for Spanish teams in the America’s Cup and the highly competitive Audi MedCup. His Volvo Ocean Race track record features podium finishes in four out of the five races he’s competed in.

Chuny finished third overall on Galicia 93 Pescanova in the 1993/94 Whitbread Race, before going one better in the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race when he was second overall aboard Assa Abloy alongside current ADOR Performance Director Neal McDonald as Skipper.

After another third in the 2005-06 edition aboard Brasil 1, in 2008-09, Bermúdez recorded his only result outside the top three, when he finished seventh on Dutch entry Delta Lloyd.

Spanish sailor “Chuny” completes Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew

In the last race, sailing alongside ADOR’s Andrew ‘Animal’ McLean aboard CAMPER, Chuny finished second overall.

“Chuny’s Volvo Ocean Race experience is remarkable,” said Ian Walker. “As well as being one of the most sought after professional sailors around, he’s also a thoroughly nice guy and fits perfectly into our line-up.”

Now taking on the race for a remarkable sixth time, the affable Spaniard is gunning for victory and says he joined ADOR because he believes it has what it takes to bring the coveted Volvo Ocean Race trophy to Abu Dhabi.

“I know all the crew and I have sailed with Animal, SiFi, the ADOR navigator, its bowman Justin ‘Irish’ Slattery and Neal McDonald before,” Chuny said.

“I’ve only ever raced against Ian and have a lot of respect for him and the rest of the crew as fierce competitors. That’s how I know this is a good strong team and one I’m proud to be a part of.”


As a member of the CAMPER team during the 2011/12 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, Chuny saw at first hand the welcome the race fleet received on its arrival into Abu Dhabi, and the Spaniard is looking forward to a similar reception when he arrives into the UAE capital in December as part of the home team.


“Abu Dhabi was such a special part of the Volvo Ocean Race last time around and I have really fond memories of the time we spent there,” said Chuny.


“The welcome from everyone in the emirate was unforgettable – so warm and hospitable – and the celebrations and events that took place around the stopover were the best of the whole race. This time I’m looking forward to seeing a bit more of Abu Dhabi, in particular to meet some of the young sailors there and to try out one of the traditional dhow boats that Adil Khalid, our Emirati crew member, has told me so much about.”


Like most Volvo Ocean Race competitors, Chuny says the hardest part about racing around the world would be spending time apart his family, wife Lola and their children, Lola (11), Carlos (9) and Pepa (7).


“I’ll miss my family of course,” he said. “But I don’t like to be distracted by thoughts of home. In a race like this you have to concentrate 100 per cent so I don’t send very many emails back home. I think this comes from when I first did this race and there was no email. I think maybe we could send a fax, but that was all.”


Bermúdez, along with British double Olympic silver medallist Walker and the rest of the ADOR crew, Justin ‘Irish’ Slattery (Ireland), Phil ‘Wendy’ Harmer (Australia), Simon ‘SiFi’ Fisher (Britain), Luke ‘Parko’ Parkinson (Australia), Andrew ‘Animal’ McLean (New Zealand) and Adil Khalid (United Arab Emirates), will be based in Cascais for the next two and a half months as they train and prepare their brand new Volvo Ocean 65 yacht ‘Azzam’ for Abu Dhabi’s second consecutive Volvo Ocean Race tilt.


Follow news of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team and hear the latest on the Abu Dhabi stopover for the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race by following on Facebook –, on Twitter – @ADORlog, online at, and on YouTube –





Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction which enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike. The authority manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The authority supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage. A key authority role is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.


Abu Dhabi has been named ‘World’s Leading Sports Destination’ in the 2013 World Travel Awards.

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Three new crew members join Team SCA

Posted on 17 March 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Team SCA] It was confirmed today that Dee Caffari (GBR), Sara Hastreiter (USA) and Elodie-Jane Mettraux (SUI) would all be joining Team SCA, leading global hygiene and forest products company SCA’s, all-female team in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.

Caffari (41) is no stranger to ocean racing having competed in the Vendée Globe Race, the Global Challenge, Barcelona World Race and four transatlantic races. She is the only woman to have sailed solo around the world in both directions (east about and west about) as well as being the only female to have sailed around the world three times non-stop. She also holds the female crewed monohull Round Britain and Ireland speed record, a record she established in June 2009, with Team SCA crew mate Sam Davies.

Hastreiter (29) has been working towards double-handed offshore racing on Class 40’s and other short-handed races as well as campaigning to do a Trans-Atlantic. She has sailed over 40,000 nautical miles and has competed in races including the Caribbean 600, Newport to Bermuda Race, IRC Nationals, NYYC Race Week, Antigua Race Week and the St. Thomas Rolex Regatta among many deliveries and working on various boats around the world.

Mettraux (29), whose sister Justine joined the team earlier this year, is one of four under-30’s in the squad. She joins the squad from a rich sailing background with the Geneva Training Center, which she has managed for a number of years. She won the amateur ranking in the 2012 Tour de France a la Voile and was instrumental in building the Swiss all-female match racing team in 2013, and joins the crew as the fourth under-30 in Team SCA.

The Team SCA crew. Puerto Calero, 17 March 2014. Photo copyright Team SCA

The three new crew join a squad that includes: Sally Barkow (USA), Carolijn Brouwer (NED), Sophie Ciszek (AUS), Sam Davies (GBR), Abby Ehler (GBR), Stacey Jackson (AUS), Annie Lush (GBR), Justine Mettraux (SUI) and Liz Wardley (AUS). The team is based in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote and is due to complete two transatlantic passages in May as they ramp up their training in advance of the start of the Volvo Ocean Race in October this year.

“When SCA announced its participation with an all-female team in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015, its vision was a to see women competing in a race that has normally been reserved for men, conquering the unexpected and entering the future as a strong team,” says Joséphine Edwall-Björklund, SVP Corporate Communications.

For the past eighteen months SCA has been trialling candidates, and with some seven months left to the start, this selection has now been honed down to a current squad of twelve.

Typically in the Volvo Ocean Race a skipper selects a crew from an established group of male offshore sailors. SCA has turned the process on its head in a bid to select the very best female sailors to be part of its team. Eleven members of the squad will make up the actual race team with the remainder as reserves, paralleling a practice usual in most sports teams.

“It has been a long but very rewarding process and there is no doubt that there is a huge amount of female talent out there that has just not had the opportunity to break through the ‘glass ceiling’ of offshore racing. We very much hope that this team will set the benchmark for women’s offshore sailing and empower more able and talented female sailors to take part in this classic event,” comments Richard Brisius, Managing Director, Team SCA.

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Photo gallery: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam first sail

Posted on 11 March 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Spectacular photos by Ian Roman of Azzam’s first sail on Sunday. The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing VO65 is now heading to Portugal and is expected to reach Cascais in four days:

First sail of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

First sail of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

First sail of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

First sail of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

First sail of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

First sail of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

First sail of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

First sail of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

First sail of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

First sail of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

First sail of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

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Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam takes first sail

Posted on 10 March 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing] Azzam, the new 65-foot carbon racing yacht in which Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) will contest the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15, has sailed for the first time with the crew, led by British double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, conducting sea trials along the English south coast.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed Volvo Ocean 65, named for the Arabic meaning determination, was launched at the Williams Shipping facility in Southampton Docks after being transferred by barge from builders Green Marine in Hythe, UK.

Before sailing, Azzam underwent a mandatory safety test on the complex hydraulic system which controls her 4.7 metre long canting keel. The test required Azzam to be hauled over by her mast to an angle of around 45 degrees before the hydraulic pumps lifted the keel and its 3,500 kg lead bulb completely clear of the water.

Abu Dhabi’s Azzam VO65 takes her maiden sail. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman

The ADOR crew strained to wind the winches and to pull Azzam on to her side while listening carefully for any untoward noises.

“She’s as strong as she is beautiful; those are gargantuan loads and she shrugged them off with ease,” said Skipper Walker.

Having passed the pull down test, Azzam was put through a day of careful sail testing in the confines of the Solent Straits before the experienced international crew were satisfied enough to embark on two days of more rigorous sailing in open water.

Azzam is one of seven identical Volvo Ocean 65 yachts being built for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 and the fourth to take to the water ahead of the race start on October 4 in Alicante, Spain.

The ADOR sailors were unanimous in their praise of the yacht they’re relying on to get them quickly and safely around the 39,000 mile course which includes a stopover in Abu Dhabi over the 2014/15 Christmas and New Year festive season.

Abu Dhabi navigator Simon ‘SiFi’ Fisher, who spent much of the first day’s sailing studying Azzam’s performance data, said he was impressed by the initial numbers.

“We were doing over 20 knots in around 15 knots of breeze today; and that’s without really trying too hard. It’s great to get the first sailing time under our belts and it gives me a chance to start gathering valuable data from the boat. Every time we go sailing from now until the start of the race we will be monitoring, measuring and analysing every little detail about how the boat performs. For now though, we’re off to a great start.”

Having raced a wide variety of high performance boats around the world, including four Volvo Ocean Races, bowman Justin ‘Irish’ Slattery knows more than most what an ocean thoroughbred should feel like.

“On first impressions I would say this new design is quite a bit tippier than the Volvo Open 70s which contested the last race and we will have to learn new ways of sailing to get the best out of Azzam by race time,” said Slattery.

Abu Dhabi’s Azzam VO65 takes her maiden sail. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman

“It was a lot of fun to get out on the water for the first time with the new Abu Dhabi crew on the new Azzam. It’s been a very productive few days. We have tried out all the sails and tested all the systems. Now, over the next few months, we have to learn how to sail her fast.”

Azzam’s first sail saw Emirati Olympian under-30 sailor Adil Khalid return to action after a recuperation period with an injured hand. Khalid, who raced around the world with ADOR in the last race, didn’t take long to get back into the swing of things and was soon at the heart of the on board action.

“It’s great to be back with the team,” Khalid declared with one of his broad trademark smiles. “The new Azzam looks as good as she feels to sail. I think we are well organised and ready to take on the challenge of the Volvo Ocean Race again, this time for victory.”

With Azzam now fully under his command, Skipper Ian Walker is keen to move the ADOR campaign into the next phase and has put his crew on standby to sail the just over 1000 miles to the team’s training base in Cascais near Lisbon, Portugal.

“The sailing we’ve done this week has given us a great deal of faith in our new Azzam,” Walker said. “It’s fantastic to finally have her to ourselves and we can’t wait for a bit of open water sailing.”

Far from a relaxed delivery trip, Walker says the passage to Portugal will be the first opportunity for the crew to familiarise themselves with the idiosyncrasies of the Volvo Ocean 65.

“It’s a three or four day run and it will be a good shakedown sail to give us all an early chance to get to know the boat better and start to work out how to sail this new design at optimum performance.

“Every minute we spend on the boat from now on is an opportunity to learn how to sail her faster when the race comes around,” Walker said.

Abu Dhabi’s Azzam VO65 takes her maiden sail. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman

Abu Dhabi’s Azzam VO65 takes her maiden sail. Southampton, 9 March 2014. Photo copyright Ian Roman

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