ALICANTE, ESP - Bouwe Bekking is back for more punishment in the Volvo Ocean Race. And maybe this time it’ll pay off with a victory. How else to explain why the 54-year-old Dutchman keeps coming back? He’ll sail in his eighth Volvo Ocean Race starting in October. The most experienced sailor in VOR history will skipper the seventh confirmed team in the 2017-18 edition, Team Brunel.
No one has sailed more miles in the VOR – which used to be called the Whtbread Round the World Race – than Bekking, who made his first appearance as a crewmember on Philips Innovator in 1985-86.
He’s like the Susan Lucci of the Volvo. Maybe his luck will change, because after all, Lucci finally won an Emmy after years of coming up short.
“The team's goal is to accelerate the next generation,” Bekking said. “We win by bringing together experience and talent, and creating opportunities for the next generation.”
Bekking has been a runner-up in two previous editions but victory has always been just beyond his grasp. He first experienced the so-close-yet-so-far in his debut in 1985-86, when he finished second onboard Philips Innovator, skippered by fellow Dutchman Dirk Nauta.
His first opportunity to skipper a team in the Volvo was in 2005-06 with movistar – a race that ultimately came to an end when he and his crew were forced to abandon ship in the Atlantic. Undeterred, he came back to guide Telefónica Blue to a podium finish in 2008-09 and skippered second-placed Brunel in the most recent edition in 2014-15.
“In 2014-15 we had a very good result, a result I’m proud of, but I believe we can make further huge steps based on the experience we now have with the one-design boat,” he said earlier this year.
Bekking has been described as a VOR addict. This next edition ends in The Hague in his home country, so let’s hope there’s a happy ending for him – that he finally wins his Emmy.