For Bouwe Bekking, it’s six tries and no wins in the Volvo Ocean Race. But if experience counts for anything in this one-design experiment, his Dutch-flagged Team Brunel has much better odds. More so than any other skipper, Bekking has unfinished business.
“There’s no question he brings the highest level of experience,” says Brunel watch captain Jens Dolmer, one of Bekking’s earliest recruits. “He has a clear goal to win.”
With early backing from Brunel, an international recruiting company, Bekking wasted little time selecting an international squad from 600 applicants. His veteran sidekick is Andrew Cape, of Australia, entering his sixth edition. As the most experienced navigator in the race, the critical decision-making relationship between Bekking and Cape will allow Bekking to be more involved in the physical sailing of the boat.
“We are prepared,” says Dolmer. “We trust each other, and it’s a good mix of experience. For sure the key for all of us is to enjoy the new boat and win the race, but I think we have a strong team, and we understand what it takes.”
Like their counterparts on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the primary focus of the campaign has been on gathering performance data on the Volvo Ocean 65. They completed their qualification sail early, got their promotional tour in Holland out of the way by mid-summer, and were confidently race ready by August.
“Every maneuver we’ve done has been in race mode,” says Dolmer. “We’ve done a lot of maneuvers so many times we know exactly what do to, but the challenge remains in finding different sail setups, and the best angles to steer—that will continue throughout the race.”
“We are prepared, we trust each other, and for sure the key is enjoy the new boat. We have a strong team, and we understand what it will take to win.”