One of stars of the 2017 America's Cup is joining Team Brunel for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 edition, led by Bouwe Bekking. Watch the video and find out who it is!

14 August 2017

Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup winning helmsman Peter Burling has joined Team Brunel for the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The Emirates Team New Zealand star is already out sailing with his new teammates in pre-race qualifying.

The signing of the world’s most in-demand sailor is a major coup for Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking, and sets up what should be a compelling rivalry with Burling’s long-term sailing partner Blair Tuke, who is competing with Spanish team MAPFRE.

Together, Burling and Tuke carried the flag for New Zealand at the 2016 Olympics and came home from Rio with a gold medal in the 49er class.

The pair followed up that success by playing influential roles in Emirates Team New Zealand’s victory in the America’s Cup earlier this year.

Burling got his first taste of life onboard Brunel’s Volvo Ocean 65 at the start of an overnight sprint from Plymouth, UK to Saint-Malo, France – the third stage of the Volvo Ocean Race’s Leg Zero qualifying series.

Continued below…

“I’ve always wanted to do this race – although I haven’t done a lot offshore, I’ve always been keen to get involved but always struggled to find the time,” Burling said at dockside in Plymouth. “It seems like good timing and a great opportunity to learn a lot off a pretty experienced team.”

He continued: “Round-the-world ocean racing has always excited me and I’m stoked to be part of Team Brunel on this epic edition. I can’t wait to be thrown into the challenge of extreme offshore racing and broaden my skills and sailing experience.”

Still only 26, Burling is the youngest winning helmsman in America’s Cup history.

Either Burling or Tuke could become the first sailor to complete the Triple Crown of sailing’s major events.

To date, no one has won an Olympic gold medal, the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race. Both teams will start among the favourites.

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Burling continued: “I’ve sailed against Blair a lot in the past, and I think he’s really enjoying his time onboard MAPFRE. I think both of us will learn a lot before the next time we sail together, and we’ll take on a challenge again together soon.”

Team Brunel were runners-up in 2014-15 under Bekking and have hit the ground running in their preparations for the upcoming race.

Burling is the seventh sailor to be announced for the Dutch team following the signings of America’s Cup sailors Carlo Huisman (NED) and Kyle Langford (AUS); Argentinian Juanpa Marcos; and Volvo Ocean Race veterans Alberto Bolzan (ITA) and Maciel Cicchetti (ARG/ITA), all sailing under skipper Bouwe Bekking (NED).

Wearing a black hat and a smile is Bouwe Bekking who has announced he is leading Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

Bouwe Bekking. Credit: Stefan Coppers/Team Brunel/Volvo Ocean Race

Bekking said: “Peter is one of the most talented sailors in the world, winning an Olympic gold in Rio and the America’s Cup. He’s a huge addition for our team. He is superb driver – one of the fastest – and I think he will adapt very quickly.”

The 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race begins from Alicante on 22 October. The race will take the teams 45,000 nautical miles around the world via a series of Host City stops – including Auckland.

“It’s going to be pretty special to be on board to see Auckland, the City of Sails, welcome an epic race like the Volvo Ocean Race,” added Burling.

“Having just toured New Zealand with the America’s Cup I got to witness how much Kiwis really do love sailing – and I know they will really get behind the Volvo Ocean Race coming to town.”

29 June 2017

Team Brunel, led by veteran Volvo Ocean Race sailor, is the seventh confirmed team for the 2017-18 edition of the race.

This will be the eighth time that Bekking has taken part in the race, which he has never won although he has been runner-up in two editions.

No one has sailed more miles in the Volvo Ocean Race than the 54-year-old Dutch sailor, who made his first appearance as a crewmember on Philips Innovator back in 1985-86.

More than 30 years on, and his obsession with the race has only intensified. He skippered Team Brunel to second place in the most recent edition in 2014-15

“In 2014-15 we had a very good result, a result I’m proud of, but I believe we can make further huge steps based on the experience we now have with the One Design boat,” said Bekking earlier this year.

Volvo Ocean Race veteran Bouwe Bekking spays Champagne into the crowd

Bouwe Bekking and his crew celebrate winning the Volvo Ocean race in-port racing day in Alicante, Spain in 2008. Credit: Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

One of the team’s biggest backers is Brunel, the Dutch-based global project management, recruitment and consultancy company, and its founder Jan Brand.

Brunel are Volvo Ocean Race veterans themselves, having had their first involvement in 1997-98.

The theme of the team’s 2017-18 campaign is ‘Engineering the Future.’ – an initiative of a consortium of Dutch companies, including Brunel, Abel, Royal Huisman and EY.

“The team’s goal is to accelerate the next generation,” explained Bekking.

“We win by bringing together experience and talent, and creating opportunities for the next generation,” he added.

Brunel founder Jan Brand added: “Together, we are able to define new rules and possibilities for the future. Team Brunel empowers the new generation to take the helm.”

With four months to go before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, the starting grid is almost full.

The other confirmed entries are team AkzoNobel (skippered by Simeon Tienpont), Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier), MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández), Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Charlie Enright), Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (David Witt) and Turn The Tide On Plastic (Dee Caffari).

The 2017-18 edition will see the teams cover 45,000 nautical miles in a race that features a total of 12 Host Cities and will finish in The Hague, Netherlands at the end of June.

The race will start from Alicante on 22 October, with a maximum of eight One Design Volvo Ocean 65 racing yachts in the fleet. Seven of the boats have undergone an extensive refit process after being raced in 2014-15.

The eighth is a brand new yacht, built for team AkzoNobel.

14 June 2017

British round the world yachtswoman Dee Caffari has announced she will be leading a mixed youth focused team during the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18.

She aims to build a multi-national, 50-50 male/female squad, with the majority under 30 years of age.

The team – Turn the Tide on Plastic – will have a strong sustainability message about ocean health.

Her campaign is already being backed by the Mirpuri Foundation and Ocean Family Foundation.

The sixth confirmed team out of a possible eight for the upcoming edition will amplify United Nations Environment’s ‘Clean Seas: Turn the Tide on Plastic’ campaign throughout the eight months of the race, which covers 45,000 nautical miles around the world.

British yachtswoman Dee Caffari unfurling a staysail

Credit: Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

Messages around diversity in age and gender will also be strong themes of Caffari’s campaign.

“I’m absolutely delighted to get the opportunity to sail for a cause I am so passionate about,” said Caffari, who was part of the all female crew of Team SCA which finished sixth in the 2014–15 Volvo Ocean Race

“The Volvo Ocean Race is the ultimate test of a team in sport, and with the ambition to race with a youth-orientated international mixed crew, we are looking to make an impact on and off the water,” she added.

Caffari’s team is already part-funded by the Mirpuri Foundation and Ocean Family Foundation (OFF), who join an increasing number of partners backing Volvo Ocean Race’s campaign on ocean health and sustainability.

The Mirpuri Foundation is a non-profit organisation set up by Portuguese businessman and philanthropist Paulo Mirpuri with the aim of making the world a better place for future generations.

 

In addition to raising awareness around the growing issue of ocean pollution, the partnership is part of the Mirpuri Foundation’s long-term ambition to build a new chapter in Portugal’s rich maritime history by creating a strong offshore legacy for future generations of Portuguese sailors.

Caffari will include two Portuguese sailors in the team with a view to building a full Portuguese team in future editions of the iconic race.

Alongside the Mirpuri Foundation, the aim of the Ocean Family Foundation is to promote awareness of the effects of pollution, the importance of bio diversity and the necessity for conservation of the world’s oceans.

Caffari is an experienced round-the-world sailor, notable for setting a landmark record in 2006, becoming the first woman to sail single-handed and non-stop the ‘wrong way’ around the world.

Then in 2009, she completed the Vendée Globe race and set a new record to become the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions.

“It’s an honour to represent this landmark campaign, and to lead the team on such a prestigious platform is exciting,” said Caffari. “Seeing the amount of plastic in the ocean is heartbreaking. We’re abusing our planet – and this campaign is about pushing people to proactively do something about it.”

Plastic bottles littering the sea bed

Plastic pollution

“We will be sailing with a youth-orientated team because the reality is, it’s going to be the next generations who inherit the mess that we’re making now. This is a major issue and we need to encourage this generation, and future generations, to step up,” stressed Caffari.

The Turn the Tide on Plastic boat will amplify the Volvo Ocean Race’s larger sustainability focus for 2017-18, and joins team AkzoNobel (Simeon Tienpont, Netherlands), Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier, France), MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández, Spain), Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Charlie Enright, USA) and Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (David Witt, Australia) in the fleet for the 2017-18 edition.

The Volvo Ocean Race starts from Alicante on 22 October and will stop at Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff and Gothenburg before a big finish in The Hague at the end of June 2018.

Meanwhile, race organisers have announced that the race will switch from a 3-year to a 2-year cycle after the upcoming 2017-18 edition.

In a media release, race organisers said the change “will provide more continuity and more commercial value for professional sailing teams, sponsors and Host Cities”.

“Confirmation of the change will mean at least some race activity in every calendar year, from now on – meaning more action for fans of sailing’s iconic race around the world, more continuous employment for the professional sailors involved, and even greater return on investment for the stakeholders backing the teams,” it added.

 

16 March 2017

Dongfeng Race Team have selected Carolijn Brouwer and Marie Riou for their Volvo Ocean Race campaign in 2017-18.

According to race organisers, the move confirms the impact of a rule change introduced to encourage mixed male-female crews.

The two women bring a wealth of experience to Charles Caudrelier’s team, including a total of five Olympic Games and a host of world titles.

They join Jérémie Beyou, who came third in the 2016-17 Vendée Globe, Stu Bannatyne and Daryl Wislang, who were announced last week as the first of the campaign’s crew for 2017-18.

Publicity still of Dutch female sailor Carolijn Brouwer, who is competing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

Carolijn Brouwer. Credit: Eloi Stichelbaut/Dongfeng Race Team.

Brouwer, 43, is one of the Netherlands’ most respected athletes and a two-time Volvo Ocean Race veteran, having competed with Amer Sports Too in 2001-02 and Team SCA in 2014-15.

She is also a former World Sailor of the Year and a three-time Olympian.

She is joined by France’s Riou, 35, who has competed twice at the Olympics, including Rio 2016, and has won four world championships in the Nacra 17 class.

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The pair have been selected following an extensive programme of evaluation which included sailing and racing, both inshore and offshore, in Australia and Portugal.

Caudrelier, who will skipper Dongfeng again after securing third place in 2014-15, is delighted with the addition of what he describes as two exceptionally gifted female sailors.

“I chose Carolijn because she beat us many times during the last race when she helmed Team SCA in the In-Port Races,” he explained.

“We all knew that she is a good helm and she has a big Olympic past and I really respect that. But her Olympic campaigns have turned her into a very fast driver and she knows where to put the boat.”

He added that Riou’s years of Olympic racing and training would be of great benefit to his squad.

French female sailor Marie Riou

Marie Riou. Credit: Eloi Stichelbaut/Dongfeng Race Team

“She is a very good Olympic sailor with tons of experience. She is also from Brittany so she has a background in offshore sailing,” he noted.

“She is strong, she has a good spirit – which is the most important thing for me – and she is used to sailing with guys. For her, the Volvo Ocean Race is a dream and, like Carolijn, Marie wants to win,” added Caudrelier.

The selection of Brouwer and Riou is the first sign that the rule change, brought in by the Volvo Ocean Race in order to encourage female sailors who might otherwise be overlooked due to a perceived lack of physical strength or experience, will have a significant impact across the sport.

Under the new crew rules, all-male teams will be limited to just seven sailors but teams that include female sailors will be able to choose from combinations including seven men plus one or two women; five men plus five women; or 11 women.

Members of the Dongfeng Race Team who are training for the Volvo OCean Race 2017-18

Dongfeng Race Team training. Credit: Bu Duomen

Brouwer says that winning the Volvo Ocean Race has been a goal for many years, and she is delighted to be joining a Chinese team which she admired during the last race.

“I’m very proud to be part of the team,” Brouwer said. “One of the reasons I wanted to join Dongfeng Race Team is because of their strong team spirit.”

“The Volvo Ocean Race is unique. It’s the ultimate challenge physically and mentally and, because you are in a team, you get the best out of each other,” added the Ditch sailor.

Riou will be making her debut in the race. “I’ve wanted to take part in the Volvo Ocean Race since I was 10 years old,” she said.

“Although my main experience is in inshore racing, I have always wanted to race offshore and for me the Volvo Ocean Race is the pinnacle of fully-crewed offshore racing,” added Riou.

The announcement of the remaining crew members of Dongfeng Race Team will be made in the coming weeks.

Dongfeng are one of three teams to have announced campaigns for the race so far, along with Team AkzoNobel (Netherlands) and MAPFRE (Spain).

A fourth team is confirmed and will be announced in late March, with the others to come in the following weeks and months.

The race will start from Alicante on 22 October 2017 and visit Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport RI, Cardiff and Gothenburg, before the big finish in The Hague at the end of June 2018.

 

8 February 2017

The Volvo Ocean Race will celebrate 45 years of history with a Legends Race on the final leg of the 2017-18 edition from Gothenburg to The Hague.

Any yacht to have featured in the Whitbread Round the World Race or Volvo Ocean Race, dating back to 1973-74, will be welcome to join in.

The race will be run over the same course, and around the same time, as the closing leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, which starts from Gothenburg on 21 June 2018.

Tracy Edwards in the Whitbread Round the World Race 1989-90

1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race: Tracy Edwards, Skipper of Maiden. Credit: Tanya Visser/PPL

Among those planning to take part in the 2018 race is Tracy Edwards MBE.

She skippered the all-female Maiden team to two leg victories in their class in the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World race and is planning to reunite her crew and the boat.

Tracy Edwards’ iconic Maiden is coming home in 2017

“Maiden was found in a sad state a few years ago in the Seychelles and since then I have been working very hard to get her back, restore her and get her back in her former glory again,” said Edwards.

“She will shortly be shipped back to the UK for a renovation program and our aim is the gather the original all-female crew from 1989-90 and compete in the new Legends Race 2018.” she added.

Sir Peter Blake’s first yacht Bandit is restored to its former glory

The plan for the Legends Race is to include a Maxi class, a Volvo Ocean 60 class and Open class.

Both Sweden and Holland have a proud history in the Volvo Ocean Race and a large number of fans who have followed the event through the years.

Steinlager 2, winner of the 89-90 Whitbread Round the World Race

Steinlager 2 which Sir Peter Blake skippered to victory in the 89-90 Whitbread. Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race

“The Legends Race will add a lot of excitement to the Stopover in Gothenburg because there are many fans in Sweden who are devoted to the history of the Volvo Ocean Race,” said Camilla Nyman, CEO of Gothenburg & Co, organisers of the stopover in Gothenburg.

“We’ll be welcoming famous yachts and crews to the heart of Gothenburg and fans will get to see a lot of legendary yachts and familiar faces,” she stated.

The head of the team organising the finish of the race at The Hague, Frank van der Peet, added: “Holland has a long and successful history with the Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Race so we are very enthusiastic about welcoming these magnificent and historic race boats to The Hague.”

 

27 January 2017

For the first time in more than a decade, the Volvo Ocean Race will be stopping over in Melbourne, Australia.

The change to the 2017-18 route was announced this morning along with confirmation of all the race dates for this edition of the race.

This will be the eighth time the race has visited Australia.

Team Alvimedica in the Volvo Ocean Race

Credit: Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica /Volvo Ocean Race

With what will be a compressed stopover, Melbourne fits between Cape Town and Hong Kong, and completes a 45,000-nautical mile route that will see the teams cover three times as many miles in the Southern Ocean as in previous editions.

Cape Town to Melbourne will now make up Leg 3 of the race – a double-point scoring, 6,300-nautical mile leg.

Melbourne will host a week-long stopover, but no In-Port Race, before the fleet leaves on Leg 4 to Hong Kong.

According to projections, the one-design Volvo Ocean 65 fleet will arrive around Christmas Day – meaning an extra reason to celebrate in the state capital of Victoria.

Australia’s history with the Volvo Ocean Race goes all the way back to the first edition in 1973-74 and, in total, Australia has hosted the race seven times.

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The race first came to Melbourne in 2005-06 and now returns for a second time.

“We’re delighted to be visiting Melbourne again – a vibrant city of sport and culture with a strong maritime heritage,” said Volvo Ocean Race COO, Richard Mason.

“Having been born in Australia myself, I couldn’t be more excited to see the race head Down Under, and I know that sailing fans across the nation will be full of excitement to see the boats and sailors for themselves,” he added.

The full 2017-18 route now features a total of 10 legs taking in 12 landmark host cities on six continents.

The teams will leave Alicante, Spain on 22 October 2017 and race on to Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne and Hong Kong before a non-scoring transition to Guangzhou in China.

A map showing the route of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

The 2017-18 route

After a stopover in Guangzhou that will include a race in the In-Port Series, the ocean legs will resume with a leg to Auckland before stopping in Itajaí, Brazil, Newport, Rhode Island, Cardiff and Gothenburg, before the big finish in the Dutch city of The Hague.

The two Southern Ocean legs – from Cape Town to Melbourne, and Auckland to Itajaí – plus the North Atlantic leg near the end of the race, Newport to Cardiff – will all score double points.

The longest leg of the 45,000-nautical mile lap of the planet will now be the 7,600-nautical mile leg from Auckland to Itajaí.

The Volvo Ocean Race recently announced a series of major changes to the rules of the 43-year-old classic adventure, including a major incentive for teams to compete with mixed male-female crews.

The addition of the Melbourne stopover means the race has locked in dates across the whole 2017-18 route.

The key dates are as follows:

Alicante

Race Village opens – 11 October 2017

Alicante In-Port Race ­– 14 October 2017

Leg 1 Start – 22 October 2017

Lisbon

In-Port Race – 28 October 2017

Leg 2 Start – 5 November 2017

Cape Town

In-Port Race – 8 December 2017

Leg 3 Start – 10 December 2017

Melbourne

Leg 4 Start – 2 January 2018

Hong Kong

In-Port Race – 27 January 2018

Guangzhou

In-Port Race – 4 February 2018

Leg 5 Start – 7 February 2018

Auckland

In-Port Race – 10 March 2018

Leg 6 Start – 18 March 2018

Itajaí

In-Port Race – 20 April 2018

Leg 7 Start – 22 April 2018

Newport

In-Port Race – 19 May 2018

Leg 8 Start – 20 May 2018

Cardiff

In-Port Race – 8 June 2018

Leg 9 Start – 10 June 2018

Gothenburg

In-Port Race – 17 June 2018

Leg 10 Start – 21 June 2018

The Hague

In-Port Race – 30 June 2018

 

23 January 2017

The first official action of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 will be the Alicante In-Port Race on Saturday, 14 October, with the race itself kicking off on Sunday, 22 October when the teams will sail Leg 1 from Alicante to Lisbon.

The Alicante Race Village will be open for 12 days from 11-22 October, 2017.

The full Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 schedule will be announced later in the year but there will be a range of events to mark the start of one of the world’s longest and toughest professional sporting event.

The Race Villages will feature a new ‘pit lane’ experience including innovative team bases, where the public will be able to interact with crews in a casual environment. There will also be The Boatyard facility, where repairs are carried out in full view of the crowds.

The Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 route will take the sailors over 45,000 nautical miles around the world and will feature three times as much sailing in the Southern Ocean as in recent editions.

As well as Alicante and Lisbon, the race will also take in Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff and Gothenburg before the grand finale in The Hague.

The forthcoming race will be the fourth edition to start from Alicante and the city has already been confirmed as Start Port for two more races after 2017-18.