Please select your home edition
Marine Resource 2016

Volvo Ocean Race Team Vestas Wind skipper - One Design is key

by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team on 13 Aug 2014
Chris Nicholson with the two Danish crew members and Morten Kamp Jorgensen of Vestas - Team Vestas Wind - Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 Pre-launch Team Vestas Wind
Denmark's Vestas, has confirmed they are sponsoring the seventh entry in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015

Chris Nicholson, (Nico) the Skipper of Team Vestas Wind is a four Volvo Ocean Race veteran, a two-time Australian Olympian with three 49er and three 505 sailing World Championships to his name.

Nicholson was the skipper of the CAMPER TEAM, run by Emirates Team New Zealand (ENTZ) which came second in the 2011-12 race. He was expected to be once more the skipper of the ETNZ team had they entered in 2014-15 race.

However ENTZ decided they needed to focus on the America’s Cup and so the hunt for a sponsor for boat seven went into overdrive, with Danish company, Vestas Systems, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, taking on the challenge, as has been announced today.

The only reason that a very late entry was possible was because of the One Design elements of this race of which Chris Nicholson forecast back in 2012 would be critical.

Immediately after the last race Nicholson said ‘with the race up to now being a design battle the changes to a largely one design race increases the attractiveness of the event.

Before that you could not guarantee to a sponsor that you will be competitive when the start gun went. With a one-design that can be guaranteed to the sponsor.’

Today Nicholson told Sail-World:

‘Finding the sponsor has been paramount. There was a rumour out there that there is a Russian entry, a Dutch entry. There was some truth in it. You try and pursue every lead as far as you can because to even get a role in a Volvo program is extremely difficult at the best of times. I was almost resigned to the fact that I would fill in on legs. I figured I would have opportunity to skipper during the race once all the pressure comes on really hard onto the current skippers. I thought that may have been what I was destined to do this race.

‘Then that turned around as discussions with Vestas became very serious.

‘Within the last five weeks literally from start to finish it has been pulled and pushed together and here we are to date in a controlled scramble.

‘The only reason we have been able to join in so late is because it’s a one design boat. I was pleased that two and a half years ago when I first heard the concept. Not many people were and I fully understood, of anyone, how difficult it was raising the funding in previous programmes and also justifying the risk to sponsors.

‘The risk in the past has been just incredible in terms of trying to deliver a fast boat and a reliable boat with multiple designers out there. The risk to a sponsor was immense back that.

‘Now for all the current sponsors, they are very fortunate to have a level playing field with the one design structure.

‘Of course the sailors who have grown up through the Volvo 70s would probably prefer that boat, which is just an awesome machine. Forget about that. The longevity of the race, the benefit of the sponsors and the closeness of the racing far outweighs anything we have seen in the past.

‘It’s a great concept, from what I can tell the boats have come out very even and it’s just all set up for super tight racing.

‘This program has come together quickly, I read some rumours the other day that this has been in the pipe for a long time. It certainly hadn’t. I ordered an A Cat six weeks ago, I was planning on having some serious A Cat racing this year. And then I had to cancel that order four weeks ago once this came up.

‘Our Shore Manager Neil Cox, (Coxy) and I have worked together a long time now, this will be our third program together now and him and the team that he has had over the years have been legendary in the race.

‘Neil and I had some pretty serious discussions if we could even do it. We had some clear standards. We didn’t want to do it if we didn’t think we could be competitive. We had some real tough discussions if we could do it and without a doubt if it wasn’t him there in that position I wouldn’t have done it.

‘The only reason we could put this program together was the whole range of one design elements.

‘The sails for instance. They are supplied all identical. When I did have a little involvement in the early days, setting the rules for this race, I was quite adamant that we shouldn’t recut them.

‘If you allow latitude in areas like that it’s tempting for teams to run like a mini arms race. The more you spend the more you get to break the competitors who don’t have the money and time.

‘To be honest if they had allowed sail recuts, I would have said we can’t actually be competitive given our short time frame.

‘Anyway we hit the go button and right now Coxy and his team are up in the UK now finishing the signage on Team Vestas Wind. We will be rolling it out the shed in about five days.

‘We will probably splash it around the 18th at the moment and then we have all the systems worked up and sea trials. Then we have a safety course on 25 and 26 August.

‘We will finish our sea trials and sail off to Alicante to see if it possible to make it down there on the assembly date. I think we can make it, if all the stars align and everything happens perfectly but as you know putting a new boat on the water normally tends to bring up the odd problem but we will overcome them.’

In Part II, Nico talks about his crew, the competition and more.

Mackay BoatsZhik ZKG 660x82Wildwind 2016 660x82

Related Articles

Gladwell's Line -The America's Cup settlement deal
The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the Arbitration Panel is not news The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the America's Cup Arbitration Panel is not new - Sail-World reported the same story in the first and second weeks of September. The Hearing on the amount of compensation to be paid is yet to be held. So far we have been unable to discover a date if indeed one has been set. Maybe next year?
Posted on 11 Oct
Debriefing the 2016 J/70 Worlds with Winning Skipper Joel Ronning
I talked with Joel Ronning after the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds to learn about his team’s win at this high-level regatta. Since its inception in 2012, the J/70 has become the most popular One Design boat in decades, with 1,100+ boats sailing in myriad countries. Some 68 boats from 15 countries arrived on San Francisco Bay last week to determine bragging rights at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds. I caught up with Joel Ronning to learn more about the Catapult team’s road to becoming the 2016 J/70 World Champions.
Posted on 5 Oct
Rio 2016 - America's Cup champ says Paralympic racing is closest ever
Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar keelboat class at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The regatta is being held in Guanabara Bay on three of the courses used for the Olympic Sailing Regatta in August.
Posted on 13 Sep
Debriefing the Rio 2016 Olympics with Team USA’s Helena Scutt
I talked with Team USA’s Helena Scutt to hear about her Olympic experience, and to learn more about her post-Rio plans. The 49erFX was introduced to Olympic circles when it replaced the Women’s Match Racing event following the 2012 Games. Not surprisingly, it drew high-performance sailors for the Rio 2016 Olympics, including Team USA’s Paris Henken and Helena Scutt. While Henken and Scutt were Olympic first-timers, they put on a strong show. I caught up with Scutt to hear more about her Olympic experience.
Posted on 8 Sep
A Q&A with Peter Bresnan ONE Palma’s founder and director
Sail-World interviewed ONE Palma’s founder Peter Bresnan to learn about the company’s partnership with McConaghy Boats For the past eight years, ONE Palma (formerly OneSails Spain) has been building a strong name, first as a sailmaker and later with refit work. Recently, ONE Palma and McConaghy Boats-legendary boatbuilders who have crafted some of the planet’s fastest sailboats-entered a business partnership. I caught up with Peter Bresnan, ONE Palma’s founder and director, to learn more about this new direction.
Posted on 2 Sep
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ train late on the Waitemata Harbour
Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. The team were sailing their recently launched AC45 Surrogate test boat which features an articulated rudder gantry - taking the AC45 close to the geometry of the AC50 to be used in the 2017 America's Cup.
Posted on 1 Sep
Dateline Rio - Sailing Olympics review - as good as it gets?
The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The weather was better than Weymouth and Qingdao, the courses more varied, but from a working media perspective, it was the people running the Rio regatta who really made the difference.
Posted on 26 Aug
Rio 2016 - Plain speaking by triple-medalist on Olympic sailing moves
Triple Olympic medalist, Santiago Lange has been on the sharp end of changes made to Olympic classes and formats Santiago Lange, a six-time Olympian and Bronze medallist in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, won his third medal – Gold sailing in the Nacra 17 class. With that length of experience at an Olympic level, having sailed the Laser, Tornado and now Nacra 17 classes his comments on the future shape of the Olympic regatta was one of the highlights of the Medallists Media Conferences.
Posted on 25 Aug
An Q&A with Steve and Heidi Benjamin about the NYYC’s 2016 Queen’s Cup
Sail-World caught up with Steve and Heidi Benjamin to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup. When it comes to U.S. Grand Prix sailing, it’s hard not to encounter the names of Steve and Heidi Benjamin. The two highly polished sailors have been successfully campaigning their series of yachts, named SPOOKIE, for years, starting first with a Carkeek 40 and progressing to their TP52. I caught up with Steve and Heidi to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup
Posted on 19 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images of the penultimate race in the Finns - Scott wins
Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn, in what potentially could have been Giles Scott's (GBR) Gold medal winning race. In the end, the current world champion won in style.
Posted on 15 Aug