Team AkzoNobel, the Dutch ocean racing team preparing to compete in the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, has christened its newly built Volvo Ocean 65 racing yacht at a spectacular event in the Netherlands.
The ceremony took place at the team’s home base in The Hague, four months almost to the day before the start of the 83,000-kilometer (45,000-nautical mile) round–the-world race, which begins in Alicante, Spain, on October 22.
Team AkzoNobel is backed by global paints, coatings and specialty chemicals company AkzoNobel and skippered by renowned Dutch yachtsman Simeon Tienpont – with British three time Volvo Ocean Race competitor Jules Salter in the navigator’s role.
The team will take on up to seven other professional teams in the race which crosses four oceans and stops at 11 major cities before the finish in The Hague in June 2018.
“We are very proud to partner with team AkzoNobel in the Volvo Ocean Race,” said Mayor of The Hague, Pauline Krikke. “I wish Simeon and his crew the best with their preparations between now and the start in October.
“As the host city for the finish of the race in June 2018, we stand by all the crews and we look forward to welcoming them safely home next year. The Volvo Ocean Race is a huge event, so we will make sure that the final stopover in The Hague is truly the race’s ‘Ultimate Destination’. The teams and their supporters can look forward to an unforgettable sporting experience, a convivial networking environment and a wonderful party atmosphere.”
Added team AkzoNobel skipper, Simeon Tienpont: “It’s a very special moment for me to have our new boat christened here in The Hague. It is fantastic to be part of the incredible legacy of Dutch Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Race campaigns that have gone before.”
A flotilla of nine young dinghy sailors from the Dutch national Optimist team proudly escorted the 65-foot team AkzoNobel yacht into the dock. Like several other members of his crew, Tienpont began his own sailing career racing Optimists in the Netherlands.
This was followed by the ceremonial breaking of a champagne bottle on the bow of the team AkzoNobel yacht, which was performed by Mayor Krikke, accompanied by Deputy Mayor of The Hague, Karsten Klein.
Leslie McGibbon, AkzoNobel’s Corporate Director of Communications and Public Affairs, said the christening was a proud moment for the company, as well as the team. “This is a unique occasion which has created a lot of excitement,” he commented. “The boat looks fantastic and we are really looking forward to connecting with people around the world.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to highlight our color and coatings expertise while raising awareness for key global issues through our sustainability partnership with the Volvo Ocean Race.”
Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner also attended the ceremony and wished the new Dutch campaign well for the grueling race.
“It has taken nearly nine months to build and complete the meticulous fit-out of this new Volvo Ocean 65. The boat builders at Persico Marine and our guys at The Boatyard have done an incredible job for team AkzoNobel,” he said.
“The Volvo Ocean Race is the toughest test of a team in professional sport and I wish Simeon and the team all the very best when they line up on the start line in Alicante against the world’s best offshore sailors.”
The team AkzoNobel yacht is the only one of the fleet of identical boats in the race to have been newly built for the 2017-18 edition. Launched for the first time a fortnight ago in Lisbon, the boat underwent stringent safety testing before being handed over to Tienpont’s crew.
As part of a recently announced partnership between AkzoNobel and the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard service facility, the entire fleet has been painted using AkzoNobel’s International and Awlgrip marine coatings.
The striking livery on the hull of the team AkzoNobel yacht combines seven custom mixed colors in an intricate design which took around 1,400 man hours to apply.
Within the next few days, Tienpont and his crew will take their newly christened boat on a transatlantic training run to New York. This will quickly be followed by a return crossing to the English south coast to take part in the 605-mile Rolex Fastnet Race – a qualifying event mandated by the Volvo Ocean Race rules.
“In many ways, the race starts right here and now for us,” explained Tienpont, a double America’s Cup winner and two-time Volvo Ocean Race competitor. “Hopefully, when we arrive back in The Hague next June after a lap of the world, we will be in contention to win the Volvo Ocean Race trophy for the Netherlands.”
Image © Thierry Martinez / team AkzoNobel / AkzoNobel