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Crew Changes All Around

Seven of eight Volvo teams add new crewmembers for Leg 2 start on Saturday

November 8, 2001
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As Volvo Ocean Race crews prepared for the Saturday start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race–a 6,550-mile Southern Ocean blitz to Sydney–the eight skippers sat side by side today in Cape Town for a press briefing, discussing crew changes and expectations for the upcoming leg.

There were few surprises in that a number of teams, including John Kostecki’s illbruck Challenge and Knut Frostad’s djuice dragons, announced changes to their navigational arrangements. In the Southern Ocean, long-term weather patterns are more predictable because of the absence of local geographical influences and having two navigators is less important than having an extra crewmember to push the boat. To streamline his operation at the nav station and improve decision making, Frostad relieved his 25-year-old co-navigator Wouter Verbraak for Leg 2.

“Despite the belief that the headboard car was the root of all evil, in fact it only temporarily waylaid us,” said Frostad. “We failed mostly in our decision-making process–the people involved in that process and how the decision was actually made. We were not effective in our communication and lacked strategic oversight in the choices we made.” Frostad has filled the crew from within, bringing onboard first-timer Terry Hutchinson as tactician and Anthony Nossiter of Australia as trimmer, replacing Christen Horn Johannessen, who has returned home for the birth of his first child.

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illbruck, as they’d planned to do all along, has swapped out the brains of co-navigator Ian Moore for the on-deck brawn of 41-year-old Noel Drennan of Australia.

Onboard Team News Corp, trimmer Joe Spooner of New Zealand will give his bunk space to three-time veteran helmsman Gordon McGuire of Ireland. “I sailed with Gordon on Silk Cut,” said skipper Jez Fanstone. “I’m looking forward to having him come on board to strengthen our driving down in the South where you need good, cool hands on the wheel.” Spooner has duties with Team New Zealand and had always planned to leave the boat in Cape Town.

Neal McDonald, the recently named skipper of Assa Abloy Challenge, has been busier than he’d planned this week, dealing with the extra responsibility, and lining up two new crewmembers to replace himself and Guillermo Altadill, who had to take family leave. Those two replacements are four-race veteran Herve Jan of France, who sailed with McDonald on Club Med, and Roberto Bermudez de Castro of Spain. Altadill hopes to rejoin the boat in Sydney.

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“I don’t think anybody would expect it to be an easy task,” said McDonald today. “We’ve had two unscheduled changes this stopover, and I have spent a long time trying to replace those people, and, obviously, to get the right caliber of people in the time available has been very hard. We are happy to have signed on two new people for this leg and basically replace two of our best drivers.”

Teams have until tomorrow to provide complete crew lists to the race committee, and Gurra Krantz’s Team SEB and Lisa Charles’ Amer Sports both said they had changes to their lineups as well, but would not make any formal announcements until tomorrow. For SEB, it’s believed that sailmaker Rodney Keenan of New Zealand will join the crew replacing Santiago Lange. Melissa Purdy has left Amer, as planned, because of responsibilities at home and with her Olympic Yngling campaign.

Kevin Shoebridge’s fourth-placed Team Tyco will be the only team with no new faces onboard for the leg. “We’re running the same team,” said Shoebridge at the press conference today. “We have really just been working on a lot of little jobs, general maintenance as opposed to any major changes to the boat and obviously the sail checks, we are changing our inventory to suit the next leg.”

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