Team Delta Lloyd’s mission to get in race shape will be boosted by the arrival of a number of sailors who will undergo trials for final places on skipper Ger O’Rourke’s crew list.
Arriving in Alicante today was a quartet made up of Dutchmen Gerd Jan Poortman, Ed van Lierde, Sander Speet and Belgium’s Bert Schandevyl. They will be joined later this week by Holland’s Peter van Niekerk and Jochem Visser for three days of training in a bid to land a spot onboard.
They will have to impress a selection panel of O’Rourke, watch captains Stu Wilson and Stuart Molloy, and Maurice Paardenkooper, Holland’s Olympic sailing coach.
In theory two spaces on the team are up for grabs, but Tom Touber, the team’s general manager, has not ruled out appointing all or none of them when the squad is finalised on October 3.
'The priority for us is to get the best sailors possible in the team,' Touber said. 'That means that all of these six guys could get selected. But at the same time, if the individuals are not right for the team, none might get selected and we carry on looking. Alternatively, some might be selected for the inshore team and some for the offshore team. We’ll see.
'It is a team sport and it is healthy to have competition for places in the team. These are all very good sailors so it will be good to see how they fit into the framework we have.'
The selection process is different to what Touber initially favoured. The original plan was to audition several young sailors for the positions, but Touber, who was shore boss at ABN AMRO when they successfully ran a youth project, believes the timeframe makes a repeat impossible.
'This is a very tough race and we do not have a lot of time,' he said. 'We wanted to select young sailors, but you need four or five months experience on one of these boats to know what you are doing.
'For that reason we have selected only sailors with at least one Volvo Ocean Race, America’s Cup or other big boat race experience.
'The calibre we have got is very good. Poortman sailed the last race on ABN AMRO TWO, van Lierde was the bow on Brunel, Speet races with Mean Machine and van Niekerk has sailed on Brunel Sunergy and Alinghi. Schandevyl has sailed double-handed transat and Visser has done a lot with Chieftain. It’s a good group of sailors to choose from.
'We are not promising anyone anything, but I am sure these guys will impress.'
The six sailors will take to the water on October 1, October 2 and October 3 in Delta Lloyd’s Volvo Open 70 before a decision is made ahead of the in-port race. http://www.volvooceanrace.org