So it is official – Chris Nicholson is back. The four-time race veteran, who skippered Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand in the last edition, will lead Team Vestas Wind, a campaign sponsored by Vestas, the world’s leading wind energy company.
With this addition, the race welcomes its seventh team, and the fleet is complete. It’s the first Danish boat in the race’s history, and its launch is imminent – work started weeks ago to be ready on time for the first In-Port Race on October 4 in Alicante, Spain.
October 4? That’s less than two months away. That sounds a tiny bit tight to train a group for a nine-month marathon around the world.
“We’ll get two weeks of sailing before the start,” says Chris bluntly. “It’s unheard of. Most teams will have done at least six times the amount of miles we’ve done at the start.”
The boat will not face its first test on water until mid-August, as the crew prepares to sail the compulsory 2,000 nautical miles qualifying distance. But that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of the skipper.
“There is no doubt that we want to win. How we are realistic about that is the problem we’ve got to tackle.”
Chris’ face is an interesting mix of kindness and determination. He adds: “We are looking to build throughout the course of the race, and I have no doubt we will. It’s a very clear and open thought process that we have within the team.”
“If we said “we want to win Leg 1”, that would probably be the surest way to have a shocker. We need to have a consistent result in the first leg. If we can manage a mid-fleet position in the first leg, that would be good.”
Two Danes, Nicolai Sehested and Peter Wibroe, will feature in the eight-man crew. The rest of the crew remains to be announced. Sehested, 24, is among the youngest from his country to have competed in the race.
“We are going to have good guys who know the story, who know how hard it is,” adds the skipper, who has twice represented Australia in the Olympics. “We will get there – it will just take us a little bit longer.”
No matter the obstacles, the timeline or the challenges ahead, Chris is a tough one, a proven leader who fought all the way to the second place with Camper in 2011-12.
“He is one of those guys who does this race because he really loves being out there, fighting in the ocean, going long, and fast, and hard,” adds Knut Frostad, the race CEO.