Team AkzoNobel finished third in its first racing encounter today, a high adrenaline sprint race around the Isle of Wight during the Lendy Cowes Week regatta in the UK. The race – the first of a four-stage Leg Zero qualification series for the Volvo Ocean Race – was a fast and furious affair sailed under overcast skies with winds gusting up to 35 knots (65 km/h).
The fleet of seven identical Volvo Ocean 65 ocean-going yachts were racing as a fleet for the first time and revelled in the windy conditions, tearing around the 50-mile (80-kilometer) course at speeds touching 25-knots (46 km/h) at times.
After getting away well from the start line off the iconic Royal Yacht Squadron clubhouse in Cowes, the team AkzoNobel crew – led by Dutch skipper Simeon Tienpont – rounded the towering chalk stacks of The Needles in fourth place.
A fast blast along the south west coast saw the Dutch boat hold its position at the turn around the St. Catherine’s Point lighthouse on the southern tip of the island. Picking the optimum headsail for the conditions and wind angle were key for the next section along the south-east coast up to the point at Bembridge on the island’s eastern-most point.
Team AkzoNobel rounded in fourth and became locked in a fierce fight with Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team for second place as the boats powered back into The Solent and headed for the finish.
At the line, it was MAPFRE who took the winning gun in a new – yet to be ratified – record time of three hours, 13 minutes and 11 seconds. Team Brunel held off team AkzoNobel to take second, with Dongfeng finishing fourth.
Team AkzoNobel skipper Tienpont declared himself satisfied with his team’s performance in their first race having finished a fraction over two minutes behind the race winners.
“It was a great fast race and fantastic to be racing against the other teams,” Tienpont said. “We are pleased with how it went – the shore team prepared the boat perfectly and that meant the crew could concentrate on the racing.
“We had to battle all the way round and it was very close with Brunel for most of the race. In the end we were third, which is OK, but most importantly we learned a lot from our first race against the other teams.”
Team AkzoNobel crew list:
- Skipper: Simeon Tienpont (NED)
- Roberto Bermúdez de Castro (ESP)
- Brad Farrand (NZL)
- Martine Grael (BRA)
- Brad Jackson (NZL)
- Emily Nagel (BMU)
- Jules Salter (GBR)
- Nicolai Sehested (DEN)
- Joca Signorini (BRA)
- MAPFRE (ESP)
- Team Brunel (NED)
- Team AkzoNobel (NED)
- Dongfeng Race Team (CHN)
- Turn the Tide on Plastic (tbc)
- Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA)
- Sung Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG)
© Thierry Martinez / team AkzoNobel