No doubt many words and articles will be written about Knut Frostad’s departure from the helm seat of the Volvo Ocean Race. I first met him during the Qingdao stopover of the first race in which he was in charge but I knew of him from his role as crew and skipper in the earlier days of the event.
There have been a number of people at the helm from Ian Bailey Wilmot in the early sextant driven days when the race was as much an adventure through the likes of Glen Bourke to Knut’s time at the helm.
It has to be said he has guided the VOR through some of it’s most challenging times with the seemingly shrinking fleets of the powerful, perhaps too powerful, Volvo 70s which so often completed legs on the back of a truck, the deck of a ship or via emergency repairs on an island off China while at the same time it could be said the world economy was similarly broken, or at least not conducive to easy sponsorship dollars.
The move to one design for the 2014/15 edition, although maligned by many at the time proved to be inspired with a decent number of seven boats on the start line in identical boats designed around the premise of ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’. A record of no broken sails (in normal use) one As a wonderful spin off it produced the closest racing in the history of the race, and perhaps even in the history of offshore sailing.
Of course his involvement in building the race didn’t end at his office door with him helping a number of teams get over the first finishing line, that of securing the funding from potential sponsors.
I have been fortunate to be able to interact with Knut on many occasions, just chatting, in his ‘Round Tables’ and even interviewed him and always found him to be – above all – passionate about this event.
After all no one else has been involved in so many Whitbread/Volvos, at so many levels as he has. (Only Mr Bekking, to the best of my knowledge has also done 7 Volvos)
His will be, in the best traditions of the original source of the expression, an extremely hard act to follow.
The Volvo Ocean Race will miss him – I will miss him – and I have absolutely no doubt that he will miss his day to day involvement with the race but I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if I bump into him at least one or two of the stopovers in the next edition.
We should all wish him well and most importantly thank him for keeping this great event alive.