Press release – Team AkzoNobel, the professional ocean racing team representing the Netherlands in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, has revealed its sailing team for the 83,000 kilometer (45,000 mile) around-the-world race.
The nine-strong crew of sailing pros has been hand-picked by the team’s skipper, renowned Dutch yachtsman Simeon Tienpont – a two-time Volvo Ocean Race competitor and double America’s Cup winner.
Tienpont’s international line-up features top-tier sailors from seven nations, including four past Volvo Ocean Race winners: Brad Jackson from New Zealand, Roberto Bermudez de Castro from Spain, Joca Signorini from Brazil and Jules Salter from Great Britain.
Also selected are Dutch Olympic silver medalist Annemieke Bes, Australian Luke Molloy, Danish match racing skipper Nicolai Sehested, and up and coming young New Zealand sailor Brad Farrand.
“The crew I have chosen blends maturity and experience with youth and vigour,” explained Tienpont. “We have an incredible depth of experience in this team, with 24 Volvo Ocean Races and five Olympic campaigns between us. In addition, we have the instinctive high performance skills of our two under-30 sailors, Brad Farrand and Nicolai Sehested, to call on.”
Kiwi sailor Brad Jackson (49) is taking on his seventh Volvo Ocean Race as a competitor. He has won the round-the-world race three times (firstly as the Whitbread Race in 1993-94 and twice as the Volvo Ocean Race in 2005-06 and 2008-09) and has never finished lower than fourth. In the last edition in 2014-15, Jackson managed and coached the Swedish all-women entry, Team SCA.
Roberto Bermudez de Castro (47) is one of Spain’s most prolific and popular ocean racers. He represented Spain in the Star class at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and has six previous Volvo Ocean Races to his name, including a spectacular victory in the 2014-15 edition with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
Brazilian sailor Joca Signorini (39) is also well-known in his home country for his yacht racing exploits. He is a multiple South American champion and raced for Brazil at the 2004 Athens Olympics in the one-man Finn class. He has sailed the Volvo Ocean Race three times and won it once, in 2008-09 with Ericsson Racing. In the 2014-15 edition, he worked with Jackson as crew coach at Team SCA.
British sailor Jules Salter (48) is internationally lauded as a top-flight racing navigator. He has competed three times in the Volvo Ocean Race and, alongside Jackson and Signorini, was part of the victorious 2008-09 Ericsson Racing crew.
Australia’s Luke Molloy and Denmark’s Nicolai Sehested have taken part in one Volvo Ocean Race apiece.
Molloy (37) is one of yachting’s most widely respected all-rounders and constantly in demand on the international racing scene. His last Volvo Ocean Race was in 2005-06 aboard Team ABN AMRO 2, alongside Simeon Tienpont, and the pair have been close allies ever since.
Sehested (27) is best known as a skipper on the World Match Racing Tour. He raced his first Volvo Ocean Race in 2014-15 on Team Vestas Wind, where he sailed several legs alongside Tienpont.
Dutch sailor Annemieke Bes and New Zealander Brad Farrand are both first-time Volvo Ocean Race campaigners.
Bes (39) represented her country at three Olympic Games, including winning silver in the women’s Yngling class at the 2008 Beijing Games and is finally realizing a long-time goal to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race.
Farrand (28), whose professional campaign experience stems mainly from the fast-paced multihull world of the Extreme Sailing Series and the World Match Racing Tour, is a seemingly bottomless pit of energy and enthusiasm – an attribute that will serve him well in the physically demanding role as the team’s bowman.
Tienpont (35) has competed in the Volvo Ocean Race twice previously – in 2008-09 as part of the Dutch ABN AMRO 2 crew and most recently in the 2014-15 edition with the Danish entry Team Vestas Wind – but this is his first time in charge of his own campaign.
“To lead a Dutch team in the Volvo Ocean Race is a real privilege because this race has such a huge legacy in the Netherlands,” added Tienpont. “The Volvo Ocean Race is incomparable with any other sporting event and we are all proud to be flying the flag for the Netherlands.”
Two of the team AkzoNobel shore-based support team, Bryce Ruthenberg from Australia and Dutchman Eduard van Lierde have been nominated as reserve sailors to join the crew in the event of sickness or injury to the core sailing crew.
Ruthenberg (37) has been part of two America’s Cup victories with Oracle Team USA and taken part in nine editions of the classic Sydney to Hobart race.
Van Lierde (41), has represented the Netherlands twice in the Volvo Ocean Race – in 2005-06 with Brunel and in 2008-09 with Delta Lloyd.
Team AkzoNobel’s entry in the Volvo Ocean Race is backed by leading global paint and coatings company AkzoNobel.
“The Volvo Ocean Race is a wonderful showcase for the unrivalled quality and high performance of our products, so it’s important this is reflected in the team itself,” said AkzoNobel CEO Ton Büchner. “Simeon has assembled an outstanding crew of real pedigree which is fully committed to winning together and we are proud to have them on board.”
Work is underway at the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard facility in Lisbon, Portugal, to fit out and paint team AkzoNobel’s brand new Volvo Ocean 65 yacht. The boat is scheduled to sail for the first time in early June, with an official christening ceremony planned to take place at the team’s base in The Hague, the Netherlands, soon after.
The team AkzoNobel crew will then begin four months of intense on the water training in the lead up to the start of the eight-month race in Alicante, Spain. Several transatlantic crossings are planned, as well as participation in the iconic Fastnet Race from Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Photos: © Thierry Martinez / team AkzoNobel