Sailing Holland, an initiative of several well-known Dutch yachtsmen, and Brunel International N.V. have reached an agreement about participation in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. This will be the third time that the Amsterdam-based company, which specialises in project management, secondment and consultancy, will be at the starting line of this round-the-world ocean race.
The Volvo Ocean Race is the most prestigious round-the-world sailing competition. The race will start on 4 October 2014 in Alicante, Spain and finish nine legs and four oceans later on 27 June 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The nine-man crews will have covered a distance of 40,000 nautical miles (72,000 kilometres), often under the most demanding conditions.
Jan Arie van Barneveld, CEO Brunel International N.V., is delighted that Brunel has once again got its own team and yacht sailing in one of the world’s most exciting and prestigious sailing regattas. "This is the third occasion Brunel has taken part in the race, which this time sees one very important improvement to the format: the boats are now identical, so it will be the teams that make the difference. We have great confidence in the experience and expertise of Sailing Holland and of Bouwe Bekking, the skipper. It will be down to the calibre of the people and how effectively they collaborate. And that’s Brunel! We are in it for the people, the sport and the victory."
The upcoming Volvo Ocean Race differs from the previous elven editions in that this time each team will be sailing the same identically-designed boat. The 20-metre-long carbon yacht, the VOR 65, has been specially developed for this race with a spectacular design based primarily on the experiences of participants in previous races.
Since all the teams will this time be ‘fighting with the same weapon’, the competition will be more exciting than ever. The winners will not be the team with the fastest design, but the one with the best yachtsmen.
The Team Brunel skipper is Bouwe Bekking, whose sailing career includes participation in six previous Volvo Ocean Races. The other members of the team have not yet been announced. Candidates will have to undergo a stringent selection procedure during the coming months.
Besides main sponsor Brunel, it is expected that a number of other companies will also support the team. "There is a lot of interest," explains Gideon Messink of Sailing Holland. "We are in discussions with a number of companies, and in one case this has already led to an agreement, with Moduleo Design Floors, a division of the International IVC group with its head office in Belgium. "Owner Filip Balcean sees participation in the Volvo Ocean Race as confirmation of the success of his company, which in just a short time has grown into the European market leader in synthetic floors. "It is fantastic to be part of an event with such international appeal, both for our 1,200 employees and our customers in 110 countries around the world."
Together with Bouwe Bekking and Gerd-Jan Poortman, Giddeon Messink is one of the driving forces behind the initiative. Because they knew from personal experience just how hard it is to get a campaign off the ground, the three sailing professionals decided to pool their know-how. "Being able to combine the tens of thousands of nautical miles sailed by Bouwe and Gerd-Jan with my experience in managing large sailing projects was a great advantage. We are delighted that Brunel and Moduleo recognise themselves in our approach, and are confident that others will be joining them."
The Brunel campaign will take on a more definite shape over the coming months. The boat is ready at the shipyard in England and will be launched as soon as possible. Following a few trial runs, it will sail to The Netherlands for the inauguration ceremony. After that, the team and boat will leave for an as-yet-undetermined location in Southern Europe for an extensive training and selection programme.
Brunel also participated in the 1997-98 and 2005-06 editions of the Volvo Ocean Race. The company also sponsored an Olympic Soling team in 2000 with skipper Roy Heiner, a team in the Tour de France à la voile in 2010, and supported solo racer Lucas Schröder in the Transat 650 in 2011.
Team Brunel is the fourth team to confirm its participation in the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race, the other three being the Swedish team SCA, Team Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) and Team Dongfeng (China). Another three teams are expected to follow in the next few months.