Team AkzoNobel and Team Brunel, the two Dutch-flagged rivals in the Volvo Ocean Race, are to face off against each other in final friendly duel at the race’s ultimate destination, The Hague. On Wednesday June 27 the two crews will compete in an exhibition 'match race' series on their home waters in front of what is expected to be thousands of Dutch sailing fans.
After 45,000 nautical miles of racing around the world in the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, the final act of this legendary race will take place off the coast of The Hague where the overall winner will be confirmed.
Today, with eight of the race’s 11 legs completed, the Spanish team Mapfre are the current leaders, ahead of the Chinese syndicate Dongfeng Race Team in second. Team Brunel, led by Dutch skipper Bouwe Bekking, sits in third – six points ahead of fellow-Dutchman Simeon Tienpont’s team AkzoNobel crew.
Both Bekking and Tienpont say their respective crews are highly excited at the opportunity to go head-to-head in the mini match race series in The Hague.
“I am very much looking forward to a direct duel with Simeon and his team,” Bekking said. “I think we have the best match racer in the world on board in Peter Burling – the winning skipper at the last America's Cup. But I also have total confidence in our whole team that we will get on well.”
“I’m sure it will be very exciting for us sailors and with this match race we also want to honour all the Dutch fans who have supported us for more than nine months in our race around the world.”
Team AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont, himself a double America’s Cup winner, was equally bullish about his crew’s prowess in the close quarters art of one-on-one match racing.
“Our two Dutch teams will have battled each other across the world’s oceans to reach The Hague after a full lap of the world,” Tienpont said. “Who will be on top when we get there remains to be seen, but I know we will come out all guns blazing to win the match race.”
“Our inshore helmsman Nicolai Sehested made his name on the World Match Racing Tour and he is very fired up for a chance to go up against Peter Burling. It’s going to be a great fun for us and I hope it will be an entertaining spectacle for the sailing-mad Dutch fans who I’m certain will be flocking to the Hague for the end of the race.”