Das Volvo Ocean Race hat begonnen. Na ja, es hat so ein bisschen begonnen, mit dem ersten In-Port Race in Alicante, welches gleich von den jungen Outsidern von Alvimedica um Charlie Enright gewonnen wurde: Bravo, Charlie. Wirklich ernsthaft beginnt das Weltrennen am Samstag den 11. Oktober, wenn die erste Etappe nach Kapstadt gestartet wird. Und was für ein Rennen! Sieben Boote am Start, wider allen erwartens, und echt gute Leute dabei. Insgesamt ist die Strecke 38739 Seemeilen lang, das Rennen wird neun Monate dauern und, nach insgesamt elf Stopover-Häfen, am 27. Juni 2015 in Göteborg enden. Mein alter Kollege und guter Freund Digby Fox, Journalist und Sport-Segel-Fernsehproduzent aus England, gibt hier seine ganz persönlichen Tipps ab – zu Favoriten und weniger favorisierten Teams. Es ist so lustig geschrieben, dass jeder Versuch der Übersetzung, fürchte ich, den Lesegenuss mindern würde. Hier also das Original, zuerst veröffentlicht bei Scuttlebutt Europe. Danke, Digby!
Digby’s Volvo Form Guide
This edition of the Volvo looks humdingingly good. Knut is worthy of his crown, in my view, for changing to one-design, and for separating the port race fluff from the clarity of being the fully crewed round the world ocean race. If the past two editions haven’t grabbed you, this one should.
As I write, dear daughter Frances is Topper racing on Lake Bowmoor near Oxford. We both understand that prep is crucial, but once she’s launched, the winner on the water is the most skillful sailor. The boat is secondary – ish. That’s what’s so exciting about this Volvo. It focuses the entire story on remarkable people and their remarkable skills in a remarkable race.
So, in boat builder Green Marine’s official hand-over order, here’s my unofficial, un-partisan, completely objective form guide to the runners and riders:
1. SCA – Go girls, bring it home, come on you beauties!! The depth of experience on this team is unbelievable. Vendee Globes, Olympics, top class offshore and match racing. They were first to launch, prepped the longest, look utterly dedicated. What a shot in the arm for the race. And what an inspiration for Frances! I don’t think the physical comparison to men makes that much difference. They have extra crew. Their navigator could sleep for hours and be fresh as a daisy. Their leg podiums will be cool news. 4:1.
2. Dongfeng – These guys are less about winning and more about China. Xu Lijia won Olympic Radial Gold in 2012 (she’s amazing) and the Chinese Olympic squad in Santander were out in huge numbers. This is all about building Chinese ocean racing skills, and heroes, under French skipper Charles Caudrelier, plus the cleverest impresario in sailing, Mark Turner. Any leg podiums will be a massive result and, hopefully, big news in China. 7:1.
3. Brunel – Flight of fancy… imagine a sailing version of Da Boxing Movie. Grizzled vet Bouwe Bekking, slumped in some dusty sailing club. Knut walks in through backlit doorway. „Bouwe, old salt, we need you.“ „No way Knut. I dun six o dese tings. Never won. Takes it outta ya.“ „Bouwe, c’mon, da fight’s still in ya. You just don’t know it.“ „S’a young guys game Knut. You been dere.“ „Yeah… [gazes wistfully]… I been dere… But don’t give up now Bouwe. You can win dis… “ Cue music, roll tacking, epic Hollywood comeback etc. Just foolin‘ Bouwe. Sorry. A dark horse campaign. 4:1.
4. Abu Dhabi – Skipper Ian Walker has had two practice Volvo runs, didn’t go great, but we all know what practice makes. He returns with his superb sponsor and an ace crew. They smashed the Round Britain and Ireland. If they start with a target on their backs, I don’t think that’ll phase Ian. Broad shoulders. Tough leader. Third time lucky. Theoretical favourites: 2-1.
5. Alvimedica – The young guns. Charlie Enright, from the US of A, plus his posse of hipsters. Pow wow! TV is going to love these dudes. Less experience but the most enthusiasm. 5:1
6. Mapfre – This is my pick of the bunch. Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez, 49’er Gold medallists, Volvo vets, second in the two-handed non-stop Barcelona World Race. They’re not just Spanish, but Basque. Tough, determined, immensely skilled, the salt of the Bay of Biscay in their blood. They’re late to the table, but they have a secret weapon: Michel Desjoyeaux, le Prof. Having Michel onboard is like having an entire extra crew. Two times solo Vendee Globe winner, he’s an offshore genius. Give ‚em a leg to get up to speed, then sit back and watch in awe. Due to their short run up: 3:1.
7. Vestas – Aussie skipper Chris Nicholson is last in. This is his fifth Volvo. Scratch crew. The best sponsor, I reckon. (I love wind turbines; they’re sculptural, beautiful, duty-of-care-to-our-planet-remindingly great). Anyway, says my cameraman buddy Konrad Frost, who taught me everything I know, you’d think the boatbuilders would have got it down by hull seven. That’s the one you want. Bet it’s quick. No pressure on these guys. Well worth a punt. 4:1.
So, my heart is with the girls, my head is with Ian Walker, but my gold is with the Spaniards. Oooo arrr. Godspeed to ye all!
Fotos: Volvo Ocean Race / David Ramos
Digby Fox – livethestory.com