Image © Thierry Martinez/team AkzoNobel
Team AkzoNobel has finished third in the Netherlands’ heat of the Volvo Ocean Race in port race series in The Hague this afternoon.
The crew got off to a slow start in sixth at the leeward end of the line but fought back into contention on the first leg after gybing into more wind on left hand side of the racecourse. They rounded the first leeward gate in third place behind leader Team Brunel (NED) and Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 champions Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) in second.
Team Brunel went on to win the race comfortably.
Although Sehested and the team AkzoNobel afterguard tried every trick in their repertoire to overtake Dongfeng Race Team – and despite several fruitless appeals to the umpires during the close quarters mark roundings – there was no way past and team AkzoNobel had to settle for third place.
This result tied team AkzoNobel and Team Brunel on 50 points with the tie being split to the advantage of Team Brunel based on the result of the last race – as per the competition rules – pushing team AkzoNobel down from third to fourth in the overall standings of the 11-stage in port race series.
Despite this disappointment inshore helmsman Nicolai Sehested (DEN) was up-beat about the way the crew sailed their final race together.
“We had a bit of a tricky start after we got stuck in some disturbance from the spectator fleet,” Sehested said. “But some great tactical calls from Jules [Salter (GBR), navigator] and Chris [Nicholson (AUS), tactician] got us right back in the hunt at the first gate.”
“In the end it wasn’t the result we were looking for, but we are going to finish off with a smile. We finished on the podium and had a good race. I'm pretty happy and proud of the team.”
Team AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont was equally positive about the team’s final podium placing after performing consistently well in the inshore series all around the world.
“Any time you score a podium in this fleet you need to be happy,” Tienpont said. “It would have been great to finish second and defend our third place in the overall in port race standings, but we got stuck behind Dongfeng.
“I am incredibly proud of the team, who never give up. They fight as lions and that can only give me a smile on my face.”
Today’s in port race in The Hague was team AkzoNobel’s final competitive outing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 – an understandably emotional moment, according to Sehested.
“We can only be proud – it’s been a good campaign,” Sehested said. “These guys are some of the best sailors in the world and it’s only a matter of time before we are all either racing with each other or against each other again somewhere.”
Watch post-race interviews with Nicolai Sehested and Simeon Tienpont: