Team AkzoNobel, the new Dutch ocean racing team backed by leading global paints and coatings company, AkzoNobel and skippered by Netherlands yachtsman, Simeon Tienpont, will race a new-build Volvo Ocean 65 yacht in the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Tienpont made the team’s milestone announcement today at the HISWA Amsterdam Boatshow, after earlier ringing the bell to officially open the major international show.
The news ends months of speculation among international sailing fans over which team had commissioned boat #8, the only new VO65 built for the next edition of the fully-crewed round-the-world yacht race.
The new team AkzoNobel VO65 is nearing completion at the Persico Marine facility in Bergamo, Italy. The boat’s hull was built at Persico and married up with the deck structure separately constructed in France by specialist raceboat builder, Multiplast.
“Every new boat is exciting, but this one is something special. It doesn’t seem very long since I started planning out this campaign on my kitchen table at home, so it’s a great feeling to now see our boat coming to fruition,” commented Tienpont.
Although the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race will be his first campaign as skipper, Tienpont is a double America’s Cup winner and has taken part in the Volvo Ocean Race twice before – with the Dutch ABN AMRO TWO campaign in 2005-06 and at the latter stages of the 2014-15 race with Team Vestas Wind.
Despite his reputation as a battle-hardened campaigner, Tienpont confessed to having butterflies in his stomach when he first laid eyes on the new boat.
“My wife thinks it’s crazy but I always have a special bond with the boats that I race,” he confessed. “Just like some people bond with the horse that they ride or their pet dog, I relate emotionally to the boat that I race.”
“Today’s announcement is a very important milestone in team AkzoNobel’s campaign to win the Volvo Ocean Race for the Netherlands,” commented team AkzoNobel manager, Gilles Chiorri. “It signals the beginning of a busy period of activity for us to be ready for the start of the race in Alicante this October.”
The new team AkzoNobel VO65 will leave Persico in May to be transported by road to the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard in Lisbon, Portugal, for measurement and final commissioning, before being formally handed over to Tienpont’s team.
Tienpont visited Persico recently to check on the progress of the yacht that will carry his yet-to-be-announced team AkzoNobel crew around the world.
“We have a christening ceremony planned in the Netherlands later this year,” Tienpont said. “Bringing our boat home for the first time will be an exciting moment and an opportunity for our Dutch supporters to see her.
“The Volvo Ocean Race is hugely popular in the Netherlands. In the same way that the French public loves the Vendée Globe, the Dutch are crazy about the Volvo Ocean Race. As a Dutchman, I’m immensely proud to be skippering a Dutch Volvo Ocean Race campaign.”
The new boat will be identical in specification to the existing fleet of seven Volvo Ocean 65s built for the last Volvo Ocean Race and currently being overhauled in Lisbon by Volvo Ocean Race technicians.
The carbon composite constructed Volvo Ocean 65s are among the world’s fastest ocean racing yachts. The identical boats are designed and built to withstand more than 83,000 kilometers of hard racing through some of the toughest conditions the world’s oceans can conjure up.
Aside from the obvious psychological boost, Tienpont believes building a new boat was far and away the best option for the Dutch campaign.
“Our goal is to be the best prepared team on the start line in Alicante,” he said. “So, our first choice was always to have a new boat built. If you have that option, it’s a no-brainer decision to make when you are racing around the world.”
Team AkzoNobel announced its participation in the Volvo Ocean Race in July 2016 as part of a strategic partnership to help to raise global awareness for the company’s brands, expertise and capabilities.
Conrad Keijzer, AkzoNobel’s Executive Committee member responsible for Performance Coatings said: “We are all excited about this announcement and can’t wait to see our new boat in the water. This is a key milestone in our campaign to win the Volvo Ocean Race.
“Our participation in the race reflects many of our company’s activities – from the salt we produce that is used in the production of the carbon used throughout the boat, to our yacht and marine coatings that are well-known around the world. This will also offer opportunities for product innovation and to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability.”
Tienpont will reveal team AkzoNobel’s sailing and shore team line-up over coming weeks and a heavy training schedule is planned from the team’s base at Scheveningen in The Hague.
A transatlantic testing run to New York in June will be followed by a return passage to Cowes, England in August when the team will line up for the first time against the other Volvo Ocean Race teams for the 605-mile Rolex Fastnet Race.