ALICANTE, ESP – Yesterday afternoon Sailing Illustrated reported, in another worldwide exclusive, that Simeon Tienpont (NED) would dock out this morning as the skipper of AkzoNobel. This after having been fired a week ago by the team sponsor for an alleged breach of contract but reinstated yesterday by a Dutch arbitration panel that adjudicated the dispute. Sadly the four members of the sailing team that we reported yesterday had declined to race with Simeon – Brad Jackson (NZL), Jules Salter (GBR), Joca Signorini (BRA) and Rome Kirby (USA) – are indeed not on board for the 1450nm Leg 1 which started off Alicante today at 1400 CET bound for Lisbon via the Madeira islands.
This morning the return of Mr Tienpont and the loss of the veterans was confirmed on the AkzoNobel website. Simeon is quoted as saying, “I would like to thank Brad Jackson for stepping up at such a challenging time to keep team AkzoNobel moving forward with our preparations for the race. Thanks also go to Joca Signorini and Jules Salter for their contributions to the campaign so far and also to Rome Kirby. We are grateful to Sun Hung Kai Scallywag team owner Seng Huang Lee and skipper David Witt for loaning us Antonio Fontes for this first leg. “Personally, I am relieved to be back with my team and excited to be getting our Volvo Ocean Race campaign underway.”
Simeon Tienpont (NED, coffee in hand) welcomed back aboard AkzoNobel by a teammate in Alicante early Sunday morning before docking out for the start of Leg 1. Photo courtesy of a TFE Facebook friend.
At the 1400 start, probably no surprise that Mapfre (ESP, red sails at the top of the photo), the early favorite in the 2017-18 VOR, won the pin end of the starting line while AkzoNobel stuffed the start – late at the committee boat end. and in dirty air. TFE screen grab from the livestream netcast courtesy of VolvoOceanRace.com (as are the following three images).
Another screen grab just after the start with Mapfre (far right) ahead and to leeward establishing an early lead, while Akzo trails the fleet (far left) and sailing in the dirty air of Brunel and Scallywag.
At the first mark set in Alicante Bay for the enjoyment of the fans on shore and aboard the large fleet of at times unruly spectator boats, Mapfre led while AkzoNobel was last around.
Simeon & Co. on AkzoNobel had a rather late and wide rounding, due either to a problem on board or perhaps just being slow and conservative in their first major maneuver of the race with some new crew onboard.