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…