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Posts Tagged ‘volvo ocean race’

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With any early-start advantage destroyed by the dispute between sponsor and team owner AkzoNobel and former skipper Simeon Tienpont, it’s left to multi-time winner Brad Jackson to pick up the pieces and get his team off the bricks.  With the skipper announcement just coming out a few minutes ago and the race beginning this weekend, Brad’s job won’t be easy, especially with the continuing conflict likely to play out in court over the next year.

So what was the fight really about?

According to the latest press release from Tienpont’s people, it was all about AkzoNobel not paying the crew their agreed-upon salary…for months, and reading between the lines, it seems to have been a case of the team owner not wanting to pay the salaries they had long ago agreed to…not that any of you owners would ever stiff a paid crew…

Read the Akzo press release here.   Tienpont’s release:

AkzoNobel seriously neglected its sponsor obligations by withholding payments to Steam Ocean. As a result Tienpont was brought in a position where he could not pay the salaries of his crew over the last months.

Last Saturday AkzoNobel offered Tienpont a new contract against worse conditions. Tienpont’s first priority was with his team, reason why he asked Akzo Nobel’s full commitment to an instant payment of the crew and a settlement on the early termination of the sponsorship contract. AkzoNobel did not want to make these commitments.

On Sunday Tienpont had a meeting with his crew and expressed his confidence that arrangements with AkzoNobel can be made in the coming days. He wants to return on board as skipper and is eager to restore the unique opportunity of sailing a safe and promising Volvo Ocean Race with his team.

Last night AkzoNobel invited most crew members to work for them directly under similar conditions and to pay the outstanding salaries, however under the condition that they had to terminate their contractual relationship with Steam Ocean (Tienpont) with immediate effect, putting enormous pressure on the crew to opt for their money and for achieving their personal goal to sail the Volvo Ocean Race.”

 

October 16th, 2017 by admin

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VOR BREAKING –  BREAKING UPDATE:

Chris Nicholson is indeed on the move for the Mediterranean, but not for the reason we all thought – at least not yet.  Nicho is headed to Malta for the start of the Middle Sea Race aboard George Sakellaris’ Mini-maxi Proteus.  As both the VOR and MSR start on the same day, it’s pretty clear someone else will be at the helm of Team AkzoNobel, at least until Lisbon.

We EXCLUSIVELY hear that former Vestas Wind and Camper skipper Chris Nicholson is headed for Spain right this moment to take over the AkzoNobel program, and of all the possible choices the paint group could make, this one is probably the best thanks to Nicho’s complete genuineness and the level of respect he gets from all sailors.  Best for getting the crew on board with the new program, best for having a chance to do well in the race, and best for Akzo.  Unfortunately for everyone, it sounds like it will take an Amsterdam judge to figure out who is to blame for the team’s going off the rails. 

Outgoing skipper Simeon Tienpont put out his own release last night with one crucial bit of information inside: According to Simeon,  Akzo’s allegation that he has breached their management contract “is absolutely unfounded and is very damaging to my reputation, especially in view of the timing, just before the start of the race. I can only guess that it is about a small budget overrun on a safety issue, but we have always been 100% transparent to AkzoNobel about our financial affairs and all our expenses have been made with their approval. It is them, not me, who is in clear breach of the contract.”

Meanwhile, Akzo published their own statement a few hours later:

“– Simeon Tienpont’s management company STEAM breached its contract to manage the team AkzoNobel entry in the Volvo Ocean race 2017-18
– The breach was serious enough for AkzoNobel to terminate the contract with immediate effect and AkzoNobel then took over the full management of the team
– Simeon was offered the option to continue as skipper but opted not to continue and has left the team

AkzoNobel has restated to us its unwavering commitment to our entry in the Volvo Ocean Race.  The sailing team and management are working together to move forward and find the best solution for the race which starts in seven days time.  As soon as the new skipper is confirmed we will make sure our sailing fans are the first to know about it.”

So, like any good argument, both parties think they are 100% correct, and that the other is to blame, and Tienpont has himself confirmed that the team was overbudget (some sources say by as much as $2M), but it’s telling that AkzoNobel’s messaging is completely silent – over and over again – on the nature of the breach.  Looking at our crystal ball and knowing how sensitive AkzoNobel’s brand new CEO is to bad publicity, we’d guess Simeon gets a quiet payoff in a few weeks…

 

 

October 15th, 2017 by admin

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Volvo may wish the world was talking about the Alicante In-Port Race – the first event of the 2017 Volvo Ocean Race – but most continue to talk about the last-minute ousting of Simeon Tienpont.  With VOR’s messaging off the rails (and still no information coming out of AkzoNobel other than a short statement) and now crew telling one publication that they are not leaving for Cape Town without Simeon, what VOR needs more than anything else is a breezy, heart-in-the-throat race around the mediterranean port.

Unfortunately, the forecast is for 10 knots or less, meaning the racing is likely to suck.  More fortunately, Andy Green and Sally Barkow are in the commentary booth.  If Facebook is blocked in your country, head over to the VOR site to watch their bespoke, un-embeddable player (yep, somehow, some brilliant media staffer built a bespoke player…in 2017…seriously).

UPDATE: Is the VOR so broke that they don’t even have onboard audio and video for this race?   Holy shit, this thing really is off the rails.  Piss poor graphics, no narrative setup, dockout show, or dock walk – we heard they had cut their video budget way down, but we didn’t realize they had less money in their live budget than the 5O5 worlds…

To be fair, the first in-port race is as much of a practice for everyone – including the media folks – as it is a real race, but if it were practice, you’d think they would at least have all their assets in place. If this is the sum total of the LIVE EXPERIENCE OF THE MOST EXTREME RACE IN THE WORLD as VOR would have you believe?  We all might just be yawning our way around the world.

 

October 14th, 2017 by admin

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VOR BREAKING

UPDATE – Statement from AkzoNobel:

Following a breach of contract Simeon Tienpont left his role as skipper of team AkzoNobel in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race on Friday, October 13, 2017.  AkzoNobel, the owner and title partner of team AkzoNobel, has confirmed it’s fully committed to the team competing in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race.  An announcement confirming who will take over the skipper role will be made shortly.

The jury is definitely still out on whether Simeon breached his contract with Akzo, or Akzo breached their contract with Simeon, and there are undoubtedly lawyers somewhere billing a lot of hours on this one.  We’ve also learned that Simeon’s crew will take the AZ on the water tomorrow without him…

Two time VOR racer and America’s Cup winner Simeon Tienpont was the first in with the only brand-new VO65 in the race, but weeks of rumors that his job was on the rocks have crescendoed today with the first In-Port Race on the air tomorrow.  While Tom Ehman (now the second person in the world to bother breaking VOR news) reported a few minutes ago that Simeon’s been excused from further duties with the team, we’ve heard from several sources that the decision hasn’t been made yet and that the Dutchman may still salvage the situation…with about 16 hours to go until tomorrow’s race.

No one will talk on the record so there’s just one way to find out what’s happening.  Tune in tomorrow as the 2017 VOR shitshow begins!

 

 

October 13th, 2017 by admin

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We were pretty surprised to see that North Sails is the only sailmaker allowed to make sails for the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race. What kind of bullshit is that? Why should it be North? Why not Doyle? Surely they have proven to make fabulous offshore sails? Quantum?  Or how about any competitor can choose whatever fucking sailmaker they want?

Just like the exclusive North deal with the new Melges IC 37, no other sailmaker gets a shot at making sails. Sure, it’s all praying to the gods of One Design, but it all seems just a little too cozy.

Regardless of the legality of the thing (and we expect ‘monopoly’ to be something the sport will have to deal with more and more in the age of single-manufacturer one-designs), it’s definitely no good for the sport in many, many ways.  Diversity of design? Gone. Diversity of employers? Going away.  That inexorable price creep as the monopoly takes hold?  Undoubtedly.

If all the arguments about how single-manufacture sails that North uses when they win these bids are accurate,  why doesn’t the entire sailing industry insist that every single sail that is made be North? Here’s our proposed rule: Competitors not using North Sails will have their eligibility removed for all events run under the RRS.

Title inspiration thanks to The Dead Kennedys. Simply replace ‘California’ with ‘North Sails’ and you get the idea.

UPDATE: Nick Bice, who with Mark Turner’s departure becomes BMOC of the VOR (and the guy who’s been working on VOR campaigns for most of his adult life), sends in a response.

It’s not really my style to get involved in any sort of back-and-forth but some facts are required here.  The VO65 is a strict One-Design class which includes sails.  We decided that would be the best approach from the very beginning of the project, as sail development was always a significant percentage of the team budgets from the previous race.  

So to bring costs under control, it was agreed that everything should be one-design.  It worked in controlling costs for the 14-15 Race, so we decided to continue the approach.  Even though every VOR since 2001 has been dominated by North Sails – as selected by independent teams – we again put the selection out for tender for the 2017-18 Race.  The process was:

-Request For Tender (RFT) sent out 8 May 2016

-RFT invited proposals to become sole official One-Design Sails Supplier for 17-18 VOR

-Aspects assessed were (but not limited to): design, consistency of manufacture, reliability, inventory, number of sails, manufacturing lead times, branding, finished sail weights, reparability, individual costings, sail bags, accessories, package and freight.

-After receiving numerous proposal, both Doyle and North were taken to the next stage, which included more details required to the topics above.  

-After much deliberation, both proposals had their own strengths and weaknesses, but based on the criteria laid out above, we chose North. 

-We did consider the option of opening up part or all of the inventory to other manufacturers for teams to choose on their own, but we concluded that the intention of the VO65 has always been to ensure that each and every team has the same opportunity to get on the podium regardless of how late they are to the game or how deep their pockets are!  

May the best team win!

-Bicey

October 1st, 2017 by admin

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As one of the loudest supporters of the Volvo Ocean Race’s continuing effort to get more women aboard the world’s leading crewed ocean race,  we’re extremely happy to see long-time SA contributor Jen Edney on the Volvo Ocean Race’s OBR squad.  But as you’ll see from the above shot, Mark Turner’s media team has completely failed at getting even a modicum of gender parity to the On-Board Reporter job.

What makes it even more odd is the frequency with which the VOR mentions the ‘10,000 ultra-highly qualified applications’ they received for the job. We ask Mark Turner directly: Does this mean that there was only 1 woman out of 10,000 qualified to do the job?  And why do you bother pushing the teams towards bringing female sailors aboard when you can’t even do the same thing for your own OBR crew?

 

August 30th, 2017 by admin

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VOR BREAKING

It sounds like Volvo 65 Hull Number 8 will indeed be on the starting line in a few short months, and our dockside insiders tell us it will be carrying a GBR sail number!

A slightly weaker rumor has skiff legend Chris Nicholson running the show, which leads us invariably to the speculation that number 8 might just be funded – in part anyway – by the British guy he’s often raced for, who we told you is the world’s most interesting racing yacht owner.

We’re also hearing that one of the existing skippers may be looking for a new job soon.  We’re not quite sure who it is yet, though fortunately there is a place to speculate on just that sort of thing.

 

August 17th, 2017 by admin

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Clean Report

Surprise! Our world exclusive scoop was confirmed by the folks at VOR today when they announced Pete Burling has joined Bouwe Bekking for the Dutch skipper’s 430th lap around the planet.  Maybe more importantly, this shot from the Sailor Girl’s excellent Fastnet coverage shows supernav Andrew Cape aboard the bumblebee colored boat as well.  Bouwe adds Capey and a golden boy who will undoubtedly be the fastest downwind driver in the fleet, and for us, there are now three clear favorites for the final crown of the VOD65 era.  Yes, it’s a bit early for form guides, but now’s as good a time as any if you’re looking to place your bets.  Our early call for the podium is below, in order.

  1. BRUNEL:  Bouwe has finished in pretty much every position on the leaderboard except the one that counts, and his youth is far behind him.  With the Dutch presence in the race and all eyes on the senior Dutch team, Bouwe has everything to prove and has never been more motivated.  We may have discounted his chances thanks to history and a less-than-optimal budget, but nabbing the ETNZ driver and Olympic destroyer means his priorities are in the right place.  In other words, in a fleet this close, a driver with a clear speed advantage and lots of durability is going to be the most important crew aboard.
  2. DONGFENG: They seemed likely to win the thing the last time around until losing the rig, and that was with n00b Chinese crew and a team more known for singlehanded prowess than good teamwork and communication. They’ve got one of the best navs (and solo skippers) in the world behind the nav station in Pascal Bidegorry, and almost everyone on the boat can drive the shit out of a boat.  Expect Caudrelier to work a bit more on conserving the boat, and rack up the podium finishes needed to win this race.
  3. MAPFRE: Always a bridesmaid, but this time, without the bride.  Well, without the fiery Iker Martinez who’s run the past couple of Spanish attempts at least, and with the more workmanlike, blue-collar Xabi at the reins and no Olympic distractions.  Tuke, Altadill, and Greenhalgh mean plenty of speed on the helm, with serious Spanish sailing and stacking  experience in big Pablo Arrarte and Antonio the boat captain.  Spain has something no one else has though: Joan Vila is one of the two best offshore navigators in the world, and few will argue that point.  Along with Stan Honey, this dude is pure money, and we’d expect MAPFRE to win quite a few legs – but probably not the race.

 

August 10th, 2017 by admin

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Blair Tuke made all the local papers when he signed up with MAPFRE last month with taglines like “Tuke Aims At First Triple Crown.”  John Kostecki famously became the first – and only – sailor to hold the distinction of winning a Whitbread/VOR, Olympic medal, and the America’s Cup, but since JK’s medal was only silver, it left things open for Tuke to be the first to get the “Real” crown – the golden one.

The pin-up looking Olympian may be fighting for it against a familiar face, with Pete Burling looking for all the world like he’s the latest addition to Bouwe Bekking’s Brunel entry in the Volvo.  There have been rumors of Burling looking for a big deal from one of the teams for a while now, and Bekking knows the importance of fast drivers more than perhaps anyone who’s done this race. This pic from before the Fastnet popping up in the forums doesn’t seal the deal, but the fact that Bouwe hasn’t been returning calls lately makes us think the Burling announcement is imminent.

Rumors continue to swirl about NZL 49er FX standouts Alex Maloney and Molly Meech joining another Volvo team, but whether it’s the long-awaited Team 8 (perhaps a Kiwi-ish effort under the management of Craig Monk) or they do part-time duty for an already-entered while training to improve on their Olympic Silver we do not yet know.  One great skiff driver and one giant of an athlete…both under 30…why wouldn’t you?

Talk it up in the VOR thread.

August 8th, 2017 by admin

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We don’t know yet whether Mudratz grommet Peter Cronin has what it takes to be an all-star professional racing crew, but we’re quite sure he’s already got what it takes to be the youngest On-Board Reporter in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race when the next race starts in 3 years.  We’ve been following Peter for a while now – Clean actually spoke to him last year for the SA Podcast during the Mudratz’ youth Melges 24 campaign – and he just continues to impress everyone with his energy and ability to share his experiences with the wider community.  Huge thanks to our Boatyard pals Bicey, Rodrigo, and Amalia for taking time out of their busy schedules to help fire up the next generation, and for understanding just how important that is.  Got teens? Share this with them.

You don’t have to be an old man to look back and reflect on your life, and I guess I’m lucky to have some wild examples of how seemingly unrelated experiences, chance encounters and everyday life events can come together over time, leading to opportunities one could never had imagined or even dreamt of. I am 17, and in 2 short years I have been fortunate to live a dream.

In March of 2017, after my grandfather’s passing, I learned I would be traveling with my grandmother to Portugal to spend a few days in the countryside and Lisbon. I would then travel to the UK for a few days, and end the trip by sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary 2. It was to be a memorial trip, a trip that they had been planning for years; a trip he sadly would never take.

There are aspects of this vacation that any traveler would fall in love with: The blue water of Cascais, Portugal; the vineyards that seem to go on forever in the rolling hills to the North; the walled city of Obidos; or perhaps the area of Nazare, home of the biggest wave ever surfed. Yet when I was told we would be spending 4 days in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, only one thing came to my mind. Not the awesome restaurants, the 12th century buildings or the 21st century shops — but the fact that it was the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) Headquarters. I knew that I had to break away from my family and somehow make my way into the Volvo HQ, even if just to look through the locked fences.

Two days before I left for Lisbon, my skipper Zach and I sailed our third Secor Volvo Fishers Island Sound race. We were sailing to defend our last two victories, but on the last race of the last day, we lost our grip on the lead we’d held throughout the regatta. I was commiserating with one of our biggest supporters – Sailing Anarchy’s Alan Block – and talking about writing an article on the race, and I wasn’t quite sure what he planned when he asked me what my schedule was in Lisbon, and if I thought I could escape the family for a day.

A day and a few texts later and I had an invitation from VOR communications boss Rodrigo Rico to come and check out The Boatyard!

It seems like ages ago when, as a 15 year old during the 2015 stopover I fell completely in love with the Volvo Ocean Race. As a young sailor, as part of our sailing club the MudRatz, I had been lucky enough to get a tour of parts of the VOR race village, meet members of the crew from Team Alvimedica and sail on an M32 catamaran. I was able to manage 3 visits to the village during that stopover, and my love of the race has only grown in the years since. The idea of getting a personal tour of the race HQ was a dream come true. Actually, it was beyond any of the dreams I had!

The days leading up to my visit to the boatyard were spent touring Portugal, but my mind stayed focused on one thing: The Boatyard. When I met Rodrigo and began learning about the Boatyard operations, my idea of “one design” was completely redrawn. While I understand the importance of the boats being identical, when Rodrigo explained the processes by which a hull was refitted and put back together, it blew my mind. He explained that for all eight boats, the same person would do the same job for each boat to ensure that there were no discrepancies between them.

For the past year, the VOR boatyard has been busy refitting the boats for the upcoming start. Rodrigo walked me through the stations of the boatyard where specific steps for each boat were completed. He explained to me that there were three steps that were completed indoors before the boat was ready to be set on its keel. Upon arriving in Lisbon, the boat was sent to stage one where the entire hull was taken apart and every single piece of equipment was logged. From gears in the winch pedestals, to bolts in the engine, every single part of the boat was recorded to perfect duplication between the boats. Furthermore, every inch of the hull and all the parts of the boat were examined with ultrasound to make sure there were no structural weaknesses.

After completing the first stage, the hulls were put back together and sent to stage two. First the hulls (including the centerboards) were sanded and washed, with the same pair of men that have sanded every other boat in the Volvo fleet working together, plank sanding the entire hull. By using the same people for the same job there is no doubt each boat is 100% identical and no one boat is faster than the other. After the boards were completed and the hull smoothed, the boats moved onto the third and final stage that was completed indoors.

Here, in stage three, the cosmetics of each ship were born. Rodrigo walked me into what looked like a run of the mill storage container but, upon opening the doors, I was amazed to see a fully automated paint mixing machine and the shelves fully stocked with paint. Because carbon fiber can be damaged when exposed to prolonged periods of UV, no carbon can be left uncovered. By having a fully automated paint mixing station, they can customize paint colors in quantities as small as a pint – this allows for minimal waste and exact duplication of colors. After the paint is mixed, the same team that has painted all the boats before, gets to work in covering each square inch of exposed carbon on the deck. After a strict inspection of the boat is completed, the boat moves out of the protection of buildings into the light of day, where fitting of its keel, mast, and communications tower began.

Because all of the boats had already been through these stages, there was no action in those areas of the boatyard, but the Sail Loft sure was busy. The first thing that caught my eyes were a stack of battens – in my experience, a little fiberglass stick perfect for giving splinters or dropping overboard before a regatta. I laid my hands on a batten that was easily 10 feet long and made purely of carbon fiber. As if that wasn’t enough to get my mind spinning, laid out in front of me was the largest sail I had ever seen. The square top alone may have been longer than an entire 420, and the main is nearly 100 feet tall! Covered in baby powder to protect it from moisture, the sail of team Turn the Tide on Plastic was getting its custom designed paint job. I knew that these sails needed to be made rugged, as they were about to go some 35+ thousand miles around the earth and experience unimaginable loads, yet the sheer strength and ruggedness I could feel in the sails was more like some kind of steel than any fabric I knew. I wish I could have seen an A3… Of course, that wasn’t nearly as mind blowing as getting to meet Dee Caffari, skipper of Team Turn the Tide on Plastic, when she came in to inspect progress on her sails.

As if the day couldn’t have gotten any better, Rodrigo took me somewhere I had only ever dreamt of being. Though four of the eight boats were scattered around the world, the other four were staying in Lisbon. Two were out practicing, team Turn the Tide on Plastic sat in the dock, and the last boat to reveal its team was on dry land towering nearly 20 feet in the air as it sat on its bunkers, awaiting its wrap. Rodrigo took me out of the sail loft and we began making a beeline towards the hull.

It isn’t too often that I find myself at a loss for words, but this surely was one of those times. I had just stepped on board a Volvo 65S, one of the boats that will be sailing in 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. As Rodrigo took me through the vessel, I felt like a kid in a candy store. From the hydraulic rams which control the canting keel, to the joystick for the remote controlled on-deck cameras, to the massive steering wheel, I just couldn’t take it all in at once. As we continued to go through the boat, I learned about the intricacies of systems I only had vague knowledge of: the desalinators, camera controllers, hydraulic systems and state of the art electronics. I got to feel firsthand how cramped everything is below decks, and I can only imagine how tough the conditions really can be, underway in the most challenging ocean race conditions…though that still doesn’t stop me from dreaming that one day I’ll be racing on a Volvo Ocean Race boat!

The next time I come in contact with the Volvo boats will be in the spring of 2018 in Newport, and it can’t come soon enough. I’m excited to watch the race and I know I will see it from a different perspective based on everything I learned at the Volvo Boatyard. Perhaps in 15 years MY name will be on the roster for the Volvo race.

-Peter Cronin, Mudratz.

August 7th, 2017 by admin

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