Saturday, January 10, 2015

Volvo Stopover Miscellaneous

The Volvo Abu Dhabi stopover is finished and I will have to go back to the day job tomorrow. But it has been a great experience.  First, was the umpiring clinic which really taught me a lot about the rules and the way judges/umpires apply them.

The last couple of days I was able to drive a Media boat for both the Inport Race and the Departure. Great way to see things up close - only the official Volvo photographers and TV boats (and helicopter) get a better view. And there was a French guy on our boat who said nonchalantly that he was a sailor, but as we chatted more, it turned out that he had been in 5 America's Cup campaigns, the Extreme Series, etc.  Obviously he was very knowledgeable about it all.

The Inport race was great, with the girls kicking ass in a big way. Sure, they won by going right and maybe they only went right because they were sucking bad air and also wanted to cover Dongfeng - but at the top mark they were in command and never looked back. Great to see - lots of enthusiastic supporters dressed in the team's blue and magenta colors.

Sam Davies, skipper of SCA
And Brunel looks very consistently strong. I would not be surprised to see them on the podium in Gothenburg.

The departure day was so foggy that we could see very little of the triangular course and the media people in my boat were happy to just park near the bottom gate and wait for the boats to come back around. By the end of the race, the fog had cleared and it was great seeing Abu Dhabi leading the pack toward China.
Next stop China.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to attend a talk given by Bouwe Bekking, the skipper of Brunel, that was for Volvo Volunteers. Although only about a dozen people showed up, he spoke to us for about an hour, including a short video about Team Brunel.  He talked about the challenges of putting together the team and campaign.  Lots of contacts, presentations and rejections in the money search. Then putting together the team - he said after they narrowed things down to around 25, they had everyone come to Amsterdam, but he intentionally did not pay anyone's trip - he wanted to see how motivated people were. And one of the eventual choices, Rokas Milivicius, impressed him by having taken a bus from Lithuania - over 1,600 Km.  He also said that when the candidates came for their initial physical work, the first thing he did was ask them to remove their shirts.  He admitted that part of the reason was that the press was there, but also he thought it a good way to assess general fitness quickly.
Bouwe Bekking getting ready to put on his sailing shoes before boarding Brunel.

Overall, a very impressive guy. Certainly anyone is the skipper role has to be a diplomatic/politician in addition to being a great sailor.  And like all good politicians, he gave the impression of being very accessible and fixes you with his look and makes you believe he is really speaking to you and wants to focus on you.

I asked him about the switch to one design and he was very enthusiastic. First, he said it made the campaign much easier. Without it, a campaign must first find the money and then find a designer and boatyard before thinking about the team.  With one-design, once the money is found, one can go straight to finding the team and beginning training.

On the departure day our media boats were parked next to the Volvo boats and right next to Brunel.  We had a front row seat to the families saying good-bye and, although I don't understand Dutch (or Lithuanian), it was moving to see.

I also met Mr. Clean from Sailing Anarchy and chatted a bit with him.  A very interesting guy and I hope he never changes his irreverent style.
Mr. Clean


  1. Hmm. Maybe I should volunteer for one of the jobs at the Newport stopover. I see they put up the list this week of what jobs why want people to do. Sounds like a greta way to get close to the sailors and the action.

    1. Yes, it is a great opportunity and they generally treat volunteers well. As for seeing the action, you must be an on-water volunteer (TV boat, Committee Boat, Volvo photographer, Media Boats). Other volunteers see no more than the general public sees. Helping with the Volvo Academy for young sailors can also be fun.


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