With 84 days to go to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race, three teams are in the first real test on the racecourse. Assa Abloy started the Gotland Runt with the training boat Semcon R&D (the former Chessie Racing).
Two other teams, SEB and Djuice showed up at the start line with their new boats. Four other VO 60's of the previous generations joined them.
The ASSA ABLOY Racing Team's objective is to sail together with the crew in race mode. The two identical new boats stayed in Gothenburg. Skipper Roy Heiner estimated that bringing the boats to Sandhamn and back would have disrupted the two boat-testing schedule with more than ten days.
Heiner explained, "In this case we get time racing together and we can be back two boat testing on the next day after the race. That is where we focus on, we want to spend as much time sail testing as possible."
The crew arrived only one day before the start. They looked a bit misplaced between thousands of sailors and spectators after living on the training camp only. To add to the excitement 'rookie' Richard Mason of the crew had to jump in the cold water when the boat left the dock to clear some lines.
At the briefing just before the race the team went through the objectives. The plan was to give it all they got and stay with the fleet of VO 60's.
Heiner said, "We will be going upwind for the first day. So if we can hang in there and we are still in touch with the new VO 60's at the southern part of the island, we have a chance to attack as we will go into light and unpredictable winds there." Swede Klabbe Nylof contributed with his
knowledge about this race as he won the race on three occasions.
The 2001 Accenture Gotland Runt is one of the bigger offshore races in the world. 420 boats entered and sailed off in a light southerly breeze. A front passed during the start and the foul weather gear had to come out as the warm Swedish Summer suddenly disappeared. With the arrival of that front the wind decreased to 6 knots and it looks like this Gotland Runt will be a long race. The weather forecast is for the wind to swing from south to west after the front. Then soon after that a high-pressure system will move over Gotland and the 335 miles can take quite a while.
Estimated finish time for the Volvo Ocean 60's will be Tuesday noon European Time.
Crew onboard Semcon R&D/Assa Abloy (13 crew):
(First seven crewmembers crew on Assa Abloy in the Volvo Ocean Race)
Roy Heiner (NL) - skipper
Klas Nylöf (SWE) - helmsman/trimmer
Sidney Gavignet (FRA) - helmsman/trimmer
Mike Joubert (RSA) - bowman
Richard Mason (NZL) - trimmer, pit
Stu Wilson (NZL) - trimmer and sail maker onboard
Guillermo Altadill (SPA) - helmsman/trimmer
Paul Murray (NZL) - trimmer/sail maker
Ken Batt (AUS) - navigation
Anders Carlberg (SWE) - trimmer
Kristofer Weiner (SWE) - trimmer
Henric Hansson (SWE) - trimmer
Anders Hellberg (SWE) - journalist