LISBON – Immediately after today's Lisbon In-Port Race, Team AkzoNobel issued a press release confirming what Sailing Illustrated readers knew yesterday when we broke the news in yet another world exclusive – that esteemed navigator Jules Salter (GBR) is re-joining the team for Leg 2, and that VOR veterans Chris Nicholson (AUS) and Peter van Niekerk are also joining the team as new members. Key excerpt from the AkzoNobel release:
The 12,964-kilometer second leg sees the return of British navigator Jules Salter and the introduction of two new crew members: serial high-performance dinghy world champion and five-time Volvo Ocean Race competitor Chris Nicholson from Australia; and Dutch double-Olympian and two-time America’s Cup winner Peter van Niekerk.
“It is great to have Jules back and to be able to announce two more great sailors in Chris and Peter,” commented skipper Simeon Tienpont (NED).
Nicholson (48), who will sail as watch captain with team AkzoNobel, represented Australia in the super-fast 49er skiff class at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games and won four consecutive world championships in the highly competitive class between 1997 and 2000.
Dutchman van Niekerk (45) won the 31st and 32nd America’s Cups with Swiss syndicate Alinghi and has competed twice before in the Volvo Ocean Race: first in 1997-98 – when the race was known as the Whitbread Race – with Brunel Sunergy (8th place); and 10 years later in 2008-09 with Delta Lloyd (7th).
Akzo's full Leg 2 crew list published today:
Simeon Tienpont (NED) - skipper
Brad Farrand (NZL)
Martine Grael (BRA)
Luke Molloy (AUS)
Emily Nagel (GBR/BER)
Chris Nicholson (AUS)
Jules Salter (GBR)
Nicolai Sehested (DEN)
Peter van Niekerk (NED)
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On the other hand we are also keen to debunk rampant rumors when we are reasonably certain that they are not true. To wit, this afternoon your Ed. heard from a few friends in Lisbon saying we should watch the Jury Notice Board, suggesting that a number of the other six VOR teams would be lodging protests against AkzoNobel – alleging that one or two of their latest crew additions had not taken and passed the requisite "RYA Yachtmaster" requirement for all VOR racers.
We have checked this out, and are satisfied that idea of such protests are more in the way of wishful thinking on the parts of people close to other teams, or not happy about Team AkzoNobel for other reasons.
The applicable VOR rule states, "....Crew Members shall as a minimum have a valid RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Coastal Skipper qualification an equivalent qualification approved by the OA [organizing authority, i.e., the VOR Race Director]." Your Ed. understands that an abbreviated remedial course is being held tomorrow (Saturday) in Lisbon for racers not currently holding a valid qualification.
We do not take it as any sort of sign that the VOR website has not yet updated the team AkzoNobel crew page with these three additions. One assumes the VOR media team are just flat out with the crush of work after today's Lisbon In-Port Race.
The team AkzoNobel website has been updated, albeit without a photo of Mr van Niekerk, but then one hears PVN is not arriving Lisbon until tomorrow. Leg 2 starts Sunday at 1400 WET/UTC (0700 PDT).