Dongfeng Race Team have selected Carolijn Brouwer and Marie Riou for their Volvo Ocean Race campaign in 2017-18 – a move that confirms the impact of a rule change introduced by the race to encourage mixed male-female crews. The two women bring a wealth of experience to Charles Caudrelier’s team, including a total of five Olympic Games and a host of world titles.
They join Jérémie Beyou, Stu Bannatyne and Daryl Wislang, who were announced last week as the first of the campaign’s crew for 2017-18. Brouwer, 43, is one of the Netherlands’ most respected athletes and a two-time Volvo Ocean Race veteran, having competed with Amer Sports Too in 2001-02 and Team SCA in 2014-15. She is also a former World Sailor of the Year and a three-time Olympian.
She is joined by France’s Riou, 35, who has competed twice at the Olympics, including Rio 2016, and has won four world championships in the Nacra 17 class. The pair have been selected following an extensive programme of evaluation which included sailing and racing, both inshore and offshore, in Australia and Portugal.
Caudrelier, who will skipper Dongfeng again after securing third place in 2014-15, is delighted with the addition of what he describes as two exceptionally gifted female sailors. “I chose Carolijn because she beat us many times during the last race when she helmed Team SCA in the In-Port Races,” he explained.
“We all knew that she is a good helm and she has a big Olympic past and I really respect that. But her Olympic campaigns have turned her into a very fast driver and she knows where to put the boat.” He added that Riou’s years of Olympic racing and training would be of great benefit to his squad.
“She is a very good Olympic sailor with tons of experience. She is also from Brittany so she has a background in offshore sailing. She is strong, she has a good spirit – which is the most important thing for me – and she is used to sailing with guys. For her, the Volvo Ocean Race is a dream and, like Carolijn, Marie wants to win.”
The selection of Brouwer and Riou is the first sign that the rule change, brought in by the Volvo Ocean Race in order to encourage female sailors who might otherwise be overlooked due to a perceived lack of physical strength or experience, will have a significant impact across the sport. Under the new crew rules, all-male teams will be limited to just seven sailors but teams that include female sailors will be able to choose from combinations including seven men plus one or two women; five men plus five women; or 11 women.
Brouwer says that winning the Volvo Ocean Race has been a goal for many years, and she is delighted to be joining a Chinese team which she admired during the last race. “I’m very proud to be part of the team,” Brouwer said. “One of the reasons I wanted to join Dongfeng Race Team is because of their strong team spirit.
The Volvo Ocean Race is unique. It’s the ultimate challenge physically and mentally and, because you are in a team, you get the best out of each other.” Riou will be making her debut in the race. “I’ve wanted to take part in the Volvo Ocean Race since I was 10 years old,” she said. “Although my main experience is in inshore racing, I have always wanted to race offshore and for me the Volvo Ocean Race is the pinnacle of fully-crewed offshore racing.”
The announcement of the remaining crew members of Dongfeng Race Team will be made in the coming weeks. Dongfeng are one of three teams to have announced campaigns for the race so far, along with Team AkzoNobel (Netherlands) and MAPFRE (Spain).
The race will start from Alicante on 22 October and visit Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport RI, Cardiff and Gothenburg, before the big finish in The Hague at the end of June. • 3/17
Spain’s Olympic gold medallist Xabi Fernández will return to skipper MAPFRE in the Volvo Ocean Race in 2017-18, the Spanish campaign announced on Friday, 17 February. The 40-year-old Xabi, who has taken part in the Volvo Ocean Race four times, won Olympic gold in Athens 2004, and followed that up with a silver in 2008 – both times alongside his long-term sailing partner Iker Martínez.
The two men shared leadership duties during MAPFRE’s 2014-15 campaign but with Iker making the decision to focus on other professional projects, Xabi will take sole charge this time.
“The Volvo Ocean Race is an enormously difficult challenge combining human adventure, world-class sport, technical expertise, logistics on a global scale, and a unique communications platform,” said Xabi. “Being fortunate enough to be back on the start line, with a chance to claim victory, is something that we are very proud of, and I’m thankful to MAPFRE for believing in a project that began back in 2014.”
Xabi will return to the Volvo Ocean Race after finishing his work for Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup campaign, Land Rover BAR. Xabi previously competed onboard movistar in 2005-06, Teléfonica Blue in 2008-09, and Teléfonica in 2011-12, before joining MAPFRE for the last edition.
“The short-term objectives are, firstly, to finish the work on the boat and take delivery from The Boatyard in Lisbon at the end of the month. Later, we will confirm the rest of the crew with training that begins in Sanxenxo in mid-March.”
He added: “We have eight months of hard work and optimisation ahead – not only in terms of the boat, but the performance of the team – so that we can depart Alicante on 22 October with a real possibility of winning.” MAPFRE competed in the Volvo Ocean Race for the first time in 2014-15, continuing a long-standing tradition that has seen Spanish-flagged boats in eight of the previous 12 editions.
Antonio Huertas, President of MAPFRE, said: “Xabi is a fantastic skipper, who is committed to MAPFRE and shares our values. This addition is magnificent news for the campaign. We know that he will proudly carry the MAPFRE name around the world.”
Pedro Campos, general manager of the team, has been involved in every edition since 2005-06, and is delighted with the appointment. “There isn’t a sailor in the world that doesn’t respect Xabi’s talent, experience and determination,” he said. “Last edition, he clearly demonstrated his ability to organise and lead, gaining success such as the Leg 4 victory into Auckland, New Zealand. Without doubt, Xabi is the best possible skipper for MAPFRE.”
The Volvo Ocean Race starts in Alicante on 22 October 2017 and will finish in The Hague at the end of June 2018. The Race will feature a total of 12 Host Cities and take the teams over 45,000 nautical miles around the world. Three teams have so far announced their campaigns – Team AkzoNobel (skippered by Simeon Tienpont), Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier) and MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández). • 2/17
Audi Med Cup 2009 •
Pablo Arrarte will be back for his fourth Volvo Ocean Race in 2017-18, joining Spanish team MAPFRE as watch captain. Arrarte, who raced onboard Brunel in 2014-15, will also assume the role of deputy to Olympic gold medallist Xabi Fernández, who recently was named as skipper.
With just 242 days to go until the start of the 2017-18 edition on October 22, preparations are already well underway – and with the 1 million euro re-fit of the Spanish boat almost complete, it won’t be long before MAPFRE are back on the water.
“I’ll be one of two watch captains onboard,” explained Arrarte, who raced with Telefónica Blue in 2008-09, and Telefónica in 2011-12. “I’ll be cover for Xabi, being ultimately responsible for the safety of the crew and making sure that the boat goes as fast as possible whenever I’m on deck.”
It promises to be a busy start with MAPFRE for Arrarte, who will oversee preparations until his fellow Spaniard Xabi completes his duties with Land Rover BAR in the America’s Cup.
“The next step is to begin training in March when the boat comes out of the Boatyard’s re-fit process in Lisbon,” he said. “The aim of this training is to complete squad selection – so we’ll be trying people out, including some new sailors and female sailors. That’s really important for us.”
He continued: “With the new crew selection rules coming into play this edition, it’s really important that when we leave Alicante we have maximum flexibility in terms of numbers, and we know the boat perfectly.” MAPFRE’s goal will be to become the first Spanish team to win the Volvo Ocean Race trophy.
“We’re here to win,” said Arrarte. “We know it’s an extremely difficult challenge, and almost all of the teams come here with the same objective, so we have to be a bit conservative and not break too many things over the course of the race. It’s about being consistent, without too many issues, and if you manage that then you’re in with a chance.”
He continued: “Since the last race, with the addition of one-design boats, you know that you are racing with the same tools and equipment as the other teams, so the only difference is the performance of the crews. Thanks to MAPFRE, we’ll have everything we need to be competitive – and hopefully win.” • 2/17
HCL Technologies, the global IT services provider, is backing the Volvo Ocean Race as official IT services provider – developing and delivering IT solutions for the 2017-18 edition of the 45,000 nautical mile race around the world.
The partnership provides a unique opportunity for HCL, which boasts extensive infrastructure and offices in 32 countries, to work in collaboration with the race to deliver a world-class IT platform, helping fans follow the boats during their eight-month ocean marathon and at Host Cities around the world.
The IT infrastructure being built in collaboration with HCL will be the backbone of Volvo Ocean Race’s streaming and TV production for key events such as arrivals, departures and the In-Port Race series.
In addition, the delivery will include vital features such as inter-site connectivity at the race’s global stopovers, digital content delivery, mobile data centres and infrastructure with full redundancy, Wi-Fi networks, and multimedia facilities for media centres and race offices.
HCL will provide end-to-end IT support in setting up the Race Villages in all 12 stopovers, enabling Volvo Ocean Race to provide a great viewing experience to its fans as they follow the boats during the offshore legs, and stopovers at Host Cities around the world. Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner said:
“The upcoming edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will be more digitally focused than ever before. Connecting the expected 3 million Race Village visitors, the 5,000 accredited journalists and our millions of fans around the world is an immense task. Building the complex IT infrastructure that we use for this around the world is a huge challenge, and we’re confident that this partnership with HCL Technologies will allow us to provide fans, media and stakeholders with a more connected experience than ever before.”
At a projected 45,000 nautical miles, and featuring three times as many Southern Ocean miles as in previous editions, the 2017-18 race promises to be one of the most extreme yet.
“We are excited to be supporting such a momentous event in the extreme sporting calendar. The Volvo Ocean Race has become the Everest of racing; representing a life-changing experience for the crews and teams that take part,” said Ashish Gupta, Corporate Vice President & Head of EMEA, HCL Technologies.
“HCL teams from around the world will come together and work tirelessly to drive a world-class, experience for the millions of race followers, who will be using the latest digital technologies to get closer than ever to the action.”
The partnership furthers HCL’s credentials in the sporting arena and follows the company’s global engagement with Manchester United where HCL was selected as the club’s official ‘digital partner’.
The next edition of the race will depart Alicante, Spain, on 22 October 2017, and visit Lisbon, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff and Gothenburg before concluding in The Hague in June 2018. • 3/17
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