Early controversy for Volvo Ocean Race

Published on October 15th, 2017

Alicante, Spain (October 15, 2017) – Team AkzoNobel has had a number of notable firsts with regard to their entry in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18. The Dutch campaign was the first to sign-up for the event, they were the first (and only) team to build a new boat, and now they are the first team to fire its skipper.

In his Form Guide last week, reigning winning skipper Ian Walker forecasted a mid-fleet result for AkzoNobel, noting how the team had experienced crew but seemed “pretty disorganised for the past year.” Yep… looks that way.

Simeon Tienpont

The latest news regarding the removal of skipper Simeon Tienpont (NED) came on the eve of the In-Port Race this past weekend. The 2017-18 edition was to be Tienpont’s first as skipper, but his third time competing in the contest. He is also a two-time America’s Cup winner with Oracle Team USA.

However, Tienpont is not new to controversy after being implicated in the cheating scandal that tainted Oracle Team USA’s second victory in 2013, as Tienpont admitted altering one of the team’s AC45s used during the America’s Cup World Series.

A day after his dismissal, Tienpont was not clear on the cause for his termination. “They talk about a contract break, which is absolutely unfounded and is very damaging to my reputation, especially in view of the timing, just before the start of the race,” he said in a statement. “I can only guess that it is about a small budget overrun on a safety issue, but we have always been 100% transparent to AkzoNobel about our financial affairs and all our expenses have been made with their approval. It is them, not me, who is in clear breach of the contract.”

With the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race – a 700 nm ‘sprint’ from Alicante, Spain to Lisbon, Portugal – to start on October 22, these are tough days for the team. AkzoNobel did not reveal any specific details at the time of their decision, only stating that “Tienpont has left Team AkzoNobel after what the team said was a breach of contract.” Two days later, they now offer this fuller statement:

First of all, we want to thank everyone for the many messages and comments the team has received over what has been a difficult few days for us. We appreciate every single one of them – the positive and the negative ones – and we very much value everyone’s passion for the campaign.

Right now team AkzoNobel is dealing with a challenge none of us ever expected to face. It has been tough, but the sailors and the shoreside support staff have every intention to be on the start line next Sunday for the start of Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The complex nature of the events that have unfolded over the last week have meant we have been unable to communicate with our supporters as openly as we would normally do so, and for that we are sorry.

The title partner and owner of the team has said:

• Simeon Tienpont’s management company STEAM breached its contract to manage the team AkzoNobel entry in the Volvo Ocean race 2017-18.
• The breach was serious enough for AkzoNobel to terminate the contract with immediate effect and AkzoNobel then took over the full management of the team.
• Simeon was offered the option to continue as skipper but opted not to continue and has left the team.

AkzoNobel has restated to us its unwavering commitment to our entry in the Volvo Ocean Race.

The sailing team and management are working together to move forward and find the best solution for the race which starts in seven days time.

As soon as the new skipper is confirmed we will make sure our sailing fans are the first to know about it.

In the world of professional sport, and particularly in major global sporting competitions like the Volvo Ocean Race, teams have to be able to deal with whatever adversities come their way.

We are all working in the best interest for the team and the Volvo Ocean Race.

Thanks once again for your support which we value even more than ever at this time.

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The first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race will start on October 22 and extend 700 nm from Alicante, Spain to Lisbon, Portugal.

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Not known
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

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