Experienced ocean racers join Chris Nicholson for the VOR

ALICANTE, Spain, September 1 – Chris Nicholson’s Team Vestas Wind crew will enter the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 with less time to prepare than any of their rivals but brimming with experience combined with youthful energy.

The Australian skipper is banking on the tried and tested including two sailors with seven Volvo Ocean Races under their belts already – New Zealanders Tony Rae and Rob Salthouse – in his crew announced today.

The pair is joined by two other crew members with Race experience, Dutch navigator Wouter Verbraak and the first Argentine to be named for this year’s race, Maciel Cichetti.

Nicholson will also have plenty of new talent on board with 23-year-old Australian Tom Johnson joining Danish Volvo Ocean Race first-timers Nicolai Sehested and Peter Wibroe.

To complete the team, Irish film-maker and photographer Brian Carlin will be responsible for bringing the story of Team Vestas Wind to millions of fans around the world as Onboard Reporter.

Said Nicholson: “We need a crew with plenty of guys on board who know exactly what the Volvo Ocean Race is all about, guys who can hit the ground running and help make us competitive in the shortest time possible. And we also need a team that can gel quickly because this race more than ever before, will be about teamwork and making the right decisions together.”

Nicholson continued: “We’re confident we’ve achieved just that with a mixture of huge experience in Trae (Rae), Salty (Salthouse) and myself and guys who are ready to learn from them like Nicolai (Sehested) and Peter (Wibroe). Vestas’ core business values of accountability, simplicity and collaboration are spot on for what we’re trying to achieve with our crew. If we can show those qualities under the extreme pressure of the Volvo Ocean Race we’ll do just fine.”

The line-up in full with their sailing – and human – credentials:

Chris Nicholson (Australia)

Role: Skipper

DOB: 18/06/1969

Age: 45

Nickname: Nico

Nico has competed in the Volvo Ocean Race four times. He has represented Australia at the Sydney and Athens Olympics and is a six-time world champion. He’s cool under pressure and one of the sport’s nice guys – but underneath there’s a fierce competitor. He finished second last time in 2011-12 as skipper of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand.

Other Interesting Fact: Fourth time around the world. Was an electrician by trade and was once a miner.

Family: Partner + two sons + one dog + two horses + two chickens

Nicolai Sehested (Danish)

Role: Trimmer and boat captain 

DOB: 06/11/1989

Age: 24

Nicolai has a solid background in match racing having recently competed in the SAP Extreme 40 series. One of the shining stars in Danish sailing.  He’s got a big job for a young man but he has an old head on those young shoulders.

Other Interesting Fact: Grew up on a farm and is a keen hunter.

Family: Parents + two older sisters

Peter Wibroe (Danish)

Role: Trimmer, data processing and food.

DOB: 24/05/1985

Age: 29

Pete also has a solid background in match racing. He was a crew member of the SAP Extreme 40 and has competed in the Melges 32 and RC 44. Pete has a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences with a master’s degree in nanotechnology.

Other Interesting Fact: Growing up, he always wanted to be a musician, and his biggest talent was his ability to sleep during transportation – let’s hope he can stay awake on the boat! Pete’s bachelor of nanotechnology thesis topic was: “Exploring encapsulation efficiency in single vehicles by passive transport across bilayers around phase transition”. (Amazing!)

Family: Parents + one brother + one sister

Tony Rae (New Zealand)

Role: Hellman’s trimmer, medic, sail maker.

DOB: 26/06/1961

Age: 53

Nickname: Trae

Trae has competed in the Volvo Ocean race four times. He has been a member of Team NZ since 1987 and has been with Team NZ for all seven of their America’s Cup campaigns. He is one of the most respected men in the sport of sailing and if all goes wrong, he boasts a singing voice to cheer up his crewmates. He’s the front man for the Volvo Ocean Race rock band.

Other Interesting Fact: Had two cats but had to sell them because he was doing this race.

Family: Wife + two daughters

Rob Salthouse (New Zealand)

Role: Watch captain, driver, trimmer, sail maker.

DOB: 05/12/1965

Age: 48

Nickname: Salty

Salty has competed in three Volvo Ocean Races, four America Cup regattas with Team New Zealand, eight Sydney-to-Hobart races and five Atmel Cup races.  Knows the sport inside out and will be once again Nico’s rock on board after sailing with him in 2011-12 on CAMPER.

Other Interesting Fact: This will be his fourth lap around the world.

Family: Wife + two daughters + one son

Tom Johnson (Australia)

Role: Hellman’s trimmer and bowman and sail maker.

DOB: 23/02/1991

Age: 23

Nickname: Don

Don is the youngest on board Team Vestas. He has recently competed in the SAP Extreme 40 Sailing series and has a strong background in Moth and 49er sailing.  Nico predicts his background on high performance dinghies will help him develop into one of the fastest drivers on board Team Vestas Wind.

Other Interesting Fact: He grew up in Mandurah in Western Australia and when not sailing, he surfs, skates and goes camping.

Family: Parents + one sister

Wouter Verbraak (Dutch)

Role: Navigator.

DOB: 16/11/1975

Age: 38

Wouter has competed in the Volvo Ocean Race twice, the America’s Cup, the 2011 Barcelona World Race and all world major regattas.

Other Interesting Fact: Wouter loves skiing with his family. Unfortunately missing out on this year’s skiing means he will never keep up with his 10-year-old son’s 93kmh skiing!

Family: Wife + one son + one dog

Maciel Cichetti (Argentine)

Role: Watch captain, Driver, Trimmer

DOB: 24/09/1973

Age: 40

Nickname: Cicho

Cicho has a wealth of experience across the Volvo Ocean Race and Americas Cup. He is a World Champion in the RC 44 sailing class and a highly sought after trimmer in the TP 52’s. His experience of one-design sailing with the TP 52s, Melges should be invaluable.

Other Interesting Fact: Born in Argentina, married a Swede, has three children who were all born in different cities around the world. Favourite pastime includes watching rugby with his son, enjoying “asados” (Argentinian barbeques) with friends and (if time permits) trekking in the mountains.

Family: Wife + two daughters + one son

Brian Carlin (Irish)

Role: On Board Reporter (OBR).

DOB: 05/01/1984

Age: 30

Brian has a long history in film and photography in the sailing arena in both match racing and America’s Cup. He is responsible for all media content received from onboard the boat and also responsible for food. He’s an Irishman so he’s a born communicator who has already made himself popular with the crew. Let’s hope he can cook well too!

Other Interesting Fact:He is also an Architect. He would live in South East Asia if he had the chance.

Family: Parents + one brother (who is a chef)


Dongfeng Race Team – First there were four and now there are six. Dongfeng have added two more Chinese sailors to their race crew – Kong Chencheng (Kong) and Liu Xue (Black) – after both returned to the fray having originally pulled out. It takes the number of Chinese in the squad to six with skipper Charles Caudrelier planning to rotate them throughout the Race. Both Kong and Xue dropped out of contention for places after finding early training too tough but then the lure of the Race drew them back and team boss Bruno Debois was happy to welcome back two very talented sailors. ‘Black’ summed up why he’s back: “A Volvo Ocean Race sailor should be a team player, determined in mind with a strong body. That’s who I want to become.”

Team Brunel – Skipper Bouwe Bekking was all smiles when he steered his boat into Alicante – the first of the teams to arrive at Race HQ – just before midnight on Friday. After a four-day trip from their training base in Lanzarote, Bekking reported all was well with both the boat and the crew beyond a handful of routine maintenance fixes for the Volvo Ocean 65. He’s also named the final member of the onboard line-up, Onboard Reporter Stefan Coppers, whose ambition to do the job was first fired up eight years ago. “In 2006 the race came to Rotterdam,” recalled Coppers. “On the dock I met the PR manager of Team ABN AMRO, Yvo Janssen. I told him that he could always call me in case he was looking for an Onboard Reporter. At that time it was just a dream.”

Team SCA – The girls swapped rigging for royalty this week, as they welcomed Swedish Crown Princess Victoria to their base in Stockholm. But it wasn’t all curtsy and chit chat – in the hour-long visit they even got the Princess on the grinding machine. “It was great to give her an insight into our world and have the opportunity to meet with her in person,” said Dee Caffari. “And it’s fantastic to have her as our Godmother during the Race.” Meantime, Team SCA have announced that Accenture will be their digital partner for the nine months of the Race. Accenture will provide analytics and interactive marketing expertise to raise the team’s profile with global audiences through multiple digital channels.

Team España – After ranking second in the Round Britain and Ireland race, the Spaniards were back at their base in Sanxenxo before setting forth for Alicante and Race assembly on September 8. Despite not having their final line-up confirmed, Xabi Fernández reckons that his colleagues have reason to be confident. “We make a strong team,” he said after the team were given a civic send-off by the mayor of Vigo. “The idea is to make the crew a bit more extensive than in the last edition, and to rotate in a way we didn’t do last time. It could be beneficial for us.”

Team Alvimedica: The American-led crew are also on their way to Alicante after leaving the UK shores late at night on Tuesday following the Round Britain and Ireland Race. With the October 4 start date looming, their newest and final crew member Matt Noble revealed his excitement for the first leg journey to Africa. “Looking at the course, the two legs that I’m most looking forward to are Alicante to Cape Town and Auckland to Itajaí – not many people get to do the whole Southern Ocean thing!” he said.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing: Ian Walker and his crew are enjoying one last breather before the serious business begins but their boat Azzam has already safely been delivered to Alicante by Performance Director Neal McDonald, arriving on Friday in mid-afternoon scorching heat. Like Team Brunel’s Bouwe Bekking, he reported all was well with his Volvo Ocean 65 following their monohull record win in the Round Britain and Ireland Race last month. Meantime, preparations for the Christmas/New Year stopover in Abu Dhabi are really hotting up. On Sunday they announced, that five-times Oscar nominated composer George Fenton would be performing with the highly acclaimed Blue Planet in Concert which opens the stopover on December 12.

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