Please select your home edition
Edition
SW newsletters (top)

The Ocean Race: VO65 en route to NZ for Kiwi team

by Suzanne McFadden 9 Aug 2019 05:02 PDT 10 August 2019
The campaign to Turn the Tide on Plastic, which reached millions of people during the record breaking 2017-18 edition of the race, was recognised for the breadth of its impact © Richard Gladwell

Pioneering sailor Bianca Cook has her course firmly locked on the start line of the 2021 Ocean Race in Alicante - and she knows it will be a battle just to get there.

She has a boat, she has an experienced boss, and she has the belief.

Now Bianca Cook just needs the backing to become the first Kiwi woman to skipper a boat in the iconic round-the-world yacht race.

Cook, who’s just turned 30, is on a pilgrimage of sorts, taking her passion to yacht clubs all around New Zealand.

Her motivation is straightforward: to get a Kiwi team lining up in the 2021 Ocean Race (formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race, and before that, the Whitbread).

Her nationwide tour, which hits Wellington this weekend, will spread the word of her yet-to-be-named campaign, which she’s embarking on with the help of Tony Rae – a veteran of six round-the-world races and seven America’s Cups. ‘Trae’ will be her highly-experienced team manager.

Cook also wants to share her experiences from her first circumnavigation of the globe, on board Turn the Tide on Plastic in the last version of the race, and the environmental crusade she’ll continue through this voyage.

“And I want to get people excited about ocean racing again,” she says.

It was half-way round the world – after a terrifying but exhilarating blast through the Southern Ocean – that Cook decided she wanted to do the race again, but this time with a Kiwi team.

“It was the toughest experience I’d ever had – the biggest highs and then the biggest lows, with the loss of Fish,” says Cook, after British sailor John Fisher was washed overboard and lost at sea.

"This race can consume you, but I wanted to be involved with a Kiwi team the next time around. The discussion as to who would lead it came afterwards, when we were really trying to make it happen."

Cook first ran the idea of her own campaign past her sister, Paige (also a talented sailor), their father, Ian – who happens to be the commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron – and their mother, Blanche, before she passed away in March.

“Mum definitely had her concerns around it,” Cook admits. “She wanted to make sure that I had a team behind me who would ensure the campaign was run properly and smoothly.

“She was supportive, but she had that 'concerned mum' hat on, as mum’s do. But I know she will be there with me.”

Cook admits she got in plenty of hot water with her mother in the last race.

The first instance was in the second leg, when Cook was hit by a large wave while she was on deck. Clipped on to the rail by her safety harness, she was washed into the cockpit – where her life jacket inflated.

“But somehow it got reported that I had been washed overboard. My mother, grandmother and my sister were so upset, until they saw the footage that I’d ended up in the cockpit,” she says.

A big proponent of safety, Cook also admits she was caught out in a moment of complacency during the race. As she was about to go off-watch, the breeze picked up and she went to help change the headsail. Again she was caught on camera, this time without her life jacket on.

“I got an email from my mother, written in full capitals: WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU DOING? UP ON THE BOW WITH NO LIFEJACKET, NOT CLIPPED ON! I tried to talk my way out of it, but there was no way!”

For the rest of this story click here

Related Articles

Iron Topsail
Often it's simply just, The Smelly. Yes. The humble auxiliary... Often it's simply just, The Smelly. Yes. The humble auxiliary... Without it we'd be lost, and yet it can be treated with such disdain. One question could well be, for how much longer? Posted on 21 Nov
Sail-World NZ: E-magazine - November 14, 2021
Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for November 14, 2021 Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for November 14, 2021 Posted on 14 Nov
Gladwell's Line: Lockdown squalls hit kiwi sailing
Kiwi sailors count the cost to their sport of losing their sailing 'freedoms' to Lockdowns The cancellation announcement of the SailGP NZ regatta, due to have been held in Christchurch in January 2022, was one of the first inklings that New Zealand sailors will pay a hefty price for COVID lockdowns in coming seasons. Posted on 9 Nov
The brochure
I had a smile. It was a bit wry, for sure, but still a decent smile, none the less. This one image from Crosbie and Dale Lorimer started the thought. They were out on Sydney Harbour for the start of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's Flinders Islet race on the weekend. Posted on 8 Nov
Sail-World NZ: E-magazine - October 29, 2021
There seems to be plenty of noise, but not much light at the end of Auckland's COVID tunnel There seems to be plenty of noise but not much light at the end of Auckland's and New Zealand's COVID tunnel. Posted on 28 Oct
Great events.
One is a much sought after destination event, and the other is a long-standing A to B coastal hop. In a way, they are almost diametrically opposed. One is a much sought after destination event, and the other is a long-standing A to B coastal hop. Posted on 24 Oct
Jumbos rule
B&G gave us Nemesis, and this was a pretty cool piece of kit indeed. Not all the world's jumbos got retired and parked in the Arizona desert at the beginning of 2020. Boeing's venerable bus had served us all - so, so well… Later on that same year, B&G, gave us Nemesis, and this was a pretty cool piece of kit indeed. Posted on 10 Oct
Sail-World NZ: E-magazine - October 10, 2021
Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for October 10, 2021 Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for October 9, 2021 Posted on 9 Oct
Hooray for the hundredth!
Here is our card to the J/99, which will soon enough have 100 vessels sailing all around the world. Now if you're a British subject that means you get a letter from HRH QEII. If you're French, maybe you get one from President Macron. Certainly POTUS does to US citizens. Posted on 26 Sep
Happy, happy. Joy, joy!
Without doubt, the best perk of this job is the reach and connection There are definitely some serious perks to this gig. Yet without doubt, the best is the reach and connection with sailors far and wide. The emails, calls, and chats on the quay still come in, and continue to inspire the entire team. Posted on 13 Sep
MBW newsletters (top)