LISBON – More breaking news today from the Volvo Ocean Race that you are again reading first here on Sailing Illustrated. Your Ed. is reliably informed by sources in the Netherlands, Spain and USA that esteemed Volvo Ocean Race veteran Robert 'Chuny' Bermúdez de Castro (ESP) has been signed by Vestas 11th Hour Racing Team Director Mark Towill (USA) and Skipper Charlie Enright (USA). Chuny's hiring will be announced at the skippers' press conference at the VOR Race Village in Lisbon tomorrow (Friday) before the start of the In-Port race.
We believe that Sr. Bermúdez de Castro will be aboard Vestas for the In-Port race, and for the start of Leg 2, Lisbon to Cape Town, on Sunday.
Originally, Chuny had been a member of the troubled AkzoNobel team as a helmsman and sail trimmer, but quietly left the team in September as the contractual dispute between skipper Simeon Tienpont and sponsor AkzoNobel was heating up. He is one of Spain’s most famous ocean racers having sailed in six previous VORs, and won the last (2014-15) edition with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
Our sources all say Sr. Bermúdez is a surprise addition and "a real coup" for Vestas 11th Hour Racing for his trimming expertise and persistence. According to the VOR website, "Chuny’s obsession for maximum performance means he can never sit still as he constantly trims and tweaks the sails in an effort to squeeze out every last drop of boat speed."
As most SI readers will know, Vestas won Leg 1 (Alicante-Lisbon) in convincing fashion defeating the pre-race favorites, the Spanish-flagged team MAPFRE who were second. The addition of the Chuny, the Spaniard, has to be concerning for the other six teams, including and especially MAPFRE.
Robert 'Chuny' Bermúdez de Castro (ESP, right) with AkzlNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont (NED) in preliminary racing this summer. Chuny left the team in September.