Volvo Ocean Race Legends - Former Olympian enters Norwegian boat

Past Whitbread competitor, Berge Viking, will be in Alicante to take part in the Legends Regatta and reunion this year - Volvo Ocean Race Legends
Volvo Ocean Race Legends - Flying the Norwegian flag, the Norway Round the World project, headed by former Olympic sailor Peder Lunde, jr, will sail the veteran Swan 57, Berge Viking, to Alicante in November this year.

The boat will join Copernicus (Poland), Great Britain II (renamed Whitbread Heritage) and the maxi yacht Rothmans (Sweden) to take part the Volvo Ocean Race Legends reunion and regatta.

'We want to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of our participation, tell the story of our red, white and blue Swan and meet and unite with other famous round the world yachtsmen,' says Peder Lunde, jr, who will be bringing a large group of supporters and sponsors to the event in November as well as his crew.

Thirty years ago, an all-Norwegian, fully amateur crew led by skipper Peder Lunde, jr, Olympic Gold Medallist in the Flying Dutchman class, Rome 1960 and Olympic Silver Medallist in the Star class, Mexico 1968, and Stig Hatlo (co-skipper) found the support to build a Swan 57 in order to represent the Royal Norwegian Yacht Club in the Whitbread Round the World Race 1981-82.

In that race Lunde and Hatlo competed against Cornelis van Rietschoten, the eventual winner with Flyer. Many years before, in 1948, the ‘flying Dutchman’ as van Rietschoten was affectionately known, had, in an extraordinary feat of seamanship, sailed his 8.9-metre Dragon class boat across the North Sea from Holland to Norway to compete in the Dragon Jubilee regatta in Arendal, where he competed against Lunde’s parents.

Lunde’s pedigree is impressive. His parents won Silver (together) at the 1952 Olympic Games in Melbourne. His grandfather won Gold at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, while his daughter Jeanette competed in alpine skiing at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer and in sailing at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Lunde’s wife Aud, competed in alpine skiing at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble.

Berge Viking’s best result in The Whitbread was on leg one, from Portsmouth to Cape Town, where she finished in fourth place. But a host of other prizes were also awarded to this Norwegian team.

After leg three, which took the fleet deep into the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn, Berge Viking was awarded the seamanship prize for the best log book, the prize for best communication with the organisers and also a prize for the best maintained yacht in extreme conditions in spite of their 180 knock down. The awards jury comprised British and Argentinean Naval Admirals, who were running the stopover in Mar del Plata.

After finishing eighth of a fleet of 20 eventual finishers (29 entries) in 1982, and taking 149 days to complete the 26,000 nautical-mile course, Berge Viking returned to Oslo where she was greeted by a large armada of pleasure boats and sailing enthusiasts. She became, as Norway’s first entry in the race, a national symbol and a reminder to the Norwegians of their proud seafaring history.

For the main sponsor, the Bergesen d.y. group, the challenge after a successful race, was to find a meaningful use for the well-known boat in the future and Berge Viking was donated to the newly established foundation - The Norwegian Sailing School.

For five years she was used to train young Norwegians in the skill of coastal and blue water sailing, which included several longer voyages, among them a trip to the Canary Islands, where she was based for several winter seasons.

Finally, Berge Viking was put up for sale and was bought by today’s owner, Morten Sig. Bergesen, who at that time was the CEO of the Bergesen d.y. group, the original and main sponsor of the project Norway Round the World.

Berge Viking returned to the Nautor Yard, where she originally was built, and went through a major re-fit. After being re-delivered she has been used as a private yacht for the owner and his family.

Among her many challenging and exciting adventures since, she has been to the Shetland Islands, visited Spitsbergen which brought her north of 80 degrees and, in January 2008, she went to the Antarctic, which brought her south of 64 degrees.

On her return to Norway it was time to schedule a new re-fit, where among other updates, the original mast was replaced.

The total sailing distance of Berge Viking since her delivery in 1979 is assumed to be approximately 200,000 nautical miles, and the ‘Old Lady’ is still ready to see more of the world.

'We will be proud to bring her to Alicante and show what a yacht that has circumnavigated the world several times can look like,' Peder says.

The official Preliminary Notice of Race is now available for download together with full information on how to take part and a preliminary schedule of events here

The Volvo Ocean Race Legends will celebrate the long and varied history of the world’s premier ocean race and includes racing and social events in November this year for all those who have competed or been involved in the event since its inauguration in 1973. It promises to be an occasion not to be missed, with many former sailors travelling from all over the world to take part.