Nicholson and Niekerk boost team AkzoNobel line up

Team AkzoNobel will field a full-strength nine-strong crew for the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race to Cape Town, South Africa which starts from Lisbon, Portugal on Sunday, November 5.

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.

He has raced the Volvo Ocean Race five times previously: in 2001-02 aboard Amer Sports 1 (3rd place); in 2005-06 on the Spanish boat movistar (6th); in 2008-09 on Puma Ocean Racing (2nd); in 2011-12 as skipper of the Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand campaign (2nd); and in the 2014-15 edition as skipper of Team Vestas Wind (7th).

“Chris and I are great friends and in the last race when he was skipper of Team Vestas Wind, he asked me to step on board at short notice,” said Tienpont. “Now it is me doing the asking and I’m glad that he has jumped at the chance to join us.

“He really needs no introduction as his pedigree in the Volvo Ocean Race is so well known. I’m confident that he will be able to help us push us along the performance curve to where we need to be and I’m really looking forward to sailing with him again.”

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).

He finished fourth in the Soling class at the Sydney 2000 Olympics with helmsman Roy Heiner and fellow crewman Dirk de Ridder, and 14th in the Star class at the Athens 2004 Games, crewing for Mark Neeleman.

In the summer of 2016 van Niekerk was part of the crew of the American 100-foot ocean-racer Comanche that smashed the monohull transatlantic record time for a passage from the US to England.

“Peter is an incredible all-round sailor and I’m really pleased he is joining us,” Tienpont said. “He was one of the youngest Dutch sailors ever to do the Volvo Ocean Race and now he is always in demand as an ocean racer.

“His skills as a helmsman and sail trimmer will help us a lot and we are all very pleased to welcome him on board for this Volvo Ocean Race.”

The second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 to Cape Town is scheduled to start from Lisbon at 1400 UTC (1500 CET) and is expected to take the seven-boat fleet of identical Volvo Ocean 65 yachts around three weeks to complete.

Team AkzoNobel crew list for Leg 2:
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)

Pantaenius Sailing
Nav at Home
Jeanneau Sun Fast
West System 3
Coursemaster Autopilot
Nav at Home
Jeanneau Sun Fast
West Systems 2