One of our favorites guys in the sport, Bouwe Bekking gives a look back at the VOR and a look forward beyond. Enjoy.
SA: With the VOR now a ways past, can you reflect on the event, your performance and your overall impressions/
BB: The event was well organized this time with good facilities in nearly all the ports for the teams. Most important the organization was not afraid to make calls and to stick to their guns, which in the end it was good for our sport.
Having the media person on board was also a good move, but still I think there can be made huge improvements to get the race closer to the public. In my opinion the best way is still to have a truly professional media man onboard, provided by Volvo. That way you can guarantee to get the footage you want. Nowadays the public is living the race by “youtube”, so you need heaps of good footage and interviews.
Our performance was good .. We lacked time on the water before the race started, and that resulted in some setbacks and wrong decisions. But I think once we were in Singapore we were very competitive. We had a great team of sailors, who improved when the race went on.
SA: Will you be back for 2011-2012?
BB: I like to do another race, but time will tell.
SA: What sort of total budget will be required for the next VOR?
BB: Of course it depends all what the sponsors want. You had to the two extremes in the last race with Ercisson and DeltaLloyd. Both were very happy with their return on the investment. There will be for sure again teams who have to scrape and teams who do it right. I think a minimum of 18 million is necessary when you build a new boat.
SA: 18 million USD for the total one boat program?
BB: That is the minimum for a one boat programme in my opinion, no crazy things and a relative late start. Not too forget ex VAT. Remember in Europe this can go up as high as 25%, a number some teams very often forget.!!! It is lot of money, but if you can spread it out over three years, than all of sudden the barrier is not so high anymore and very much inline what for example an “average” soccer team in Europe gets paid ,for the name of a sponsor on their club shirt.
SA: Are there designers that you might talk to for a design that have not yet been involved?
BB: Currently I have not been speaking with any designers, as I am not employed and don’t want to waste anybody’s time. Of course I have my thoughts and I think it is wise to speak to designers who not have been in the race. You know that they are other talented designers out there.
SA: Were you happy with Farr?
BB: Yes, I think we had fast boats,
SA: What else are you doing, sailing-wise?
BB: Since the finish of the Volvo have been sailing on all type of boats and on different levels. From sailing with friends to high-level projects.
SA: Give us some examples.
BB: Swan, Superyachts, IRC boats
SA: As a professional sailor, assess the state of the business for people like you.
BB: I can see that owners and companies are more careful of starting up new projects or deciding their sailing calendar more careful. You have to be realistic, the economy is going through a dip, so when discussing a new project or a new sailing season you have to give good and reasonable input. Right now, you won’t hear any complaints from my side, but I know for some of my colleagues it is not an easy time
SA: Do you see more or less opportunities?
BB: There are always opportunities and I am fortunate enough to pick the ones I want to be involved in.
SA: do you have to find programs or do they find you? And how to you price your services? And what do you offer?
BB: They find me, having my own website has actually helped programmes/individuals who I didn’t knew to get in contact with me. I think the people I work for like that I am direct and honest, and of course know how I get the best out of their sailing programme. The best proof is that I still regular work for owners with who I sailed for the first time in the beginning of the 90´s. It is not only sailing related work what I do. I do as well speeches and team building, especially after the last Volvo there has been a lot of requests from ( big) companies to help/and or give ideas to their employees or management. But I try not to do too many of these, as it requires a lot of preparation to tailor it for each individual company : copy/paste unfortunately doesn’t work. I still prefer to go sailing!!!
SA: Assess the current state of the America’s Cup.
BB: I have never been involved in the Cup, so I can look at it from a distance. Honestly what I think is happening right now is part of the Cup, and I have to laugh when I see the reactions from the challenger and defender: history is repeating itself, but maybe on bigger scale. Anyway I am looking forward to see these monster boats compete against each other and to see who is really kicking ass . Of course the winner should get their act together quickly. The event last time in Valencia was great for the professional sailing sport.
SA: Ideally, from a professional point of view, what would you prefer to do in this sport?
BB: Of course I love the Volvo race, but racing around the cans is as good. I just love to be on the water and compete.
SA: Do you not grow weary of the grind of the VOR?
BB: How long is it now ago that the race finished , nearly 4 months………………and I have forgotten the nasty parts , it seems my body/brain have recovered 100%. This race is the best drug in the world and you get even paid for it.
SA: As a spectator, what type of boats and racing do you find to be the most compelling?
BB: Fast and exiting boats like moths and catamarans, they are full of action and fun to look at.
SA: And where will we find you next on the water?
BB: The next “big” event will be the Farr40 in Miami, but will do some other sailing before that.