The Big Split: Why Brunel is sailing away from the Volvo Ocean Race finish

Published on February 11th, 2015

by Stefan Coppers, Team Brunel
I thoroughly understand that, as a Brunel fan, you’re disappointed but pelting skipper Bouwe Bekking’s house with rotten tomatoes is a bit premature. True, we do lie more than 100 miles behind the rest of the fleet but there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for that. So calm down a bit and I’ll quietly explain why Team Brunel, and the girls, are sailing north.

After all the boats had sailed from China to the Philippines in three days, it turned out that little wind was forecasted beyond the Philippines. We would also have to face the powerful Kuroshio current, which runs at more than 4 knots. For that reason, Bekking and navigator Andrew Cape decided to take a different route. Why are we heading north?” was my first, quiet reaction to our skipper. “Are you drunk?” was my next question, slightly less quietly.

Because our cheery skipper never touches a drop, and there’s only water on board anyway, this has to be a deliberate ploy. It turns out that the aim is first to sail 300 miles north towards Taiwan and then to take a long curve around the windless area.

On your Volvo Ocean Race app at home, it looks as if we’re off on some sort of jaunt. After all, the distance to Auckland and our fellow competitors is simply getting bigger.“It’s still a pretty risky business,” I hear you say. “If the other boats do have wind, they’ll leave you right behind.”

However, all the team Brunel sailors stand right behind the decision of the skipper and navigator. “This makes it interesting,” says Rokas Milevičius. “He who dares wins.” Bouwe Bekking is sure that the investment of 300 miles will pay off before we cross the Equator.

And if it doesn’t work out and we arrive in New Zealand three days too late, do feel free to resume pelting the Dutch skipper’s house. And save a tomato for me.


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Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven teams will be scoring points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams will compete in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition – the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series. The fourth leg, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand (5,264 nm), began Feb. 8 with an ETA of Mar. 1-5.

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