Today at a press conference held at Moscow International Boat Show, skipper Andreas Hanakamp and syndicate president Oleg Zherebstov announced five key crew members that will join Team Russia to sail in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09.
In an exciting line up that unites experienced Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Race veterans with Olympic and leading international sailors, Team Russia's crew now comprises:
Two former Volvo veterans Guillermo Altadill and Stig Westergaard named as watch captains. Guillermo sailed on Ericsson during the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 and Assa Abloy in 2001-02. He skippered Estrella Damm in the recent Barcelona World Race and has over 300,000 miles of round the world racing under his belt.
Experienced Volvo Ocean Race and America's cup sailor Stig Westergaard combines the role of watch captain with performance manager. He is a triple world champion in the Finn and Soling class and is a leading match racing coach, having worked with America's cup and Olympic sailors.
Wouter Verbraak is the team navigator. Wouter has competed in the Volvo Ocean Race onboard djuice dragons in 2001-02. He sailed it the America's cup, Tour de France a la Voile, Admiral's cup, Sydney to Hobart, Volvo Baltic Race and advised sailors on strategy and weather in the Volvo Ocean Race, the Vendee Globe, Route du Rhum and the Olympics.
Finally, Vladimir ‘Kuli' Kulinichenko who sailed on the first Soviet Whitbread boat Fasizi in 1989-90 and later Odessa and Hetman Sahaidachny, joins the team as sailmaker. Kuli has an engineering background and world-class sailing and sail making experience. He has been involved in projects ranging from Whitbread campaigns to schooners, tall ships and IMS racing projects, over the span of 30 years and over 100,000 ocean miles.
Andreas Hanakamp comments: "We have assembled a great team of people here with both experience and a true sense of adventure. There are still a few more slots to fill and we are thankful to the Russian Sailing Federation for recommending a list of sailors they believe have the potential to participate in the team. An additional 50 sailors from Russia also applied to sail on the boat. All sailors suggested from the Federation were invited plus those selected from their applications to take part in trials on our Volvo Ocean 60 yacht Venom. Five Russian sailors joined us last week sailing from Cadiz to Mallorca and Uri Firsov, and experienced Olympic class and offshore sailor, made it through to the next round of trials, taking place on the new Volvo Open 70 once it has been commissioned.
"We are in touch with a few other experienced Russian sailors whom we plan to meet with once the new boat is in the water and sailing," concludes Hanakamp.
Two Russian media team members were also announced today, Leonid Dubeykovskiy and Sergey Bogdanov, who will fill the media berth on some legs.
Olympic silver medallist Rodion Luka, was on hand to address the assembled group of journalists about his new role as Team Russia's helmsman. Rodion spoke of his excitement at being involved with Team Russia: "For me it is a dream come true to sail in the Volvo Ocean Race. Oleg and Andreas have been very supportive of my training and preparation for the Olympics. I am attending all team-building sessions and sailing when I can with Team Russia up until I go to China. As soon as the Games are over, I ‘ll be full time on the campaign."
New Boat Graphics Unveiled
Zherebstov also took the opportunity to unveil Team Russia's dynamic graphics ahead of the boat leaving Green Marine's yard in Lymington (UK) next month. The distinctive boat identity, using influences from Russian architecture, will provide a very important vehicle to illustrate to its supporters that Team Russia really intends to put its name on the world map.
In an earlier address to delegates at the Moscow International Boat Show, Oleg Zherebstov explained what he felt the chances were for Team Russia during the Race: "The Volvo Ocean is an extreme sporting adventure – and out there on the water it's all to play for. Andreas tells me, as a former Olympic sailor, it never pays to under-estimate the opposition, but they better not under-estimate us either!
"There are many elements which will influence Team Russia and all the other team's performance over the oceans, including boat and sail design, navigation skills, interpreting and anticipating the weather patterns, tactical skills, boat handling and racing skills. We have an excellent boat and an excellent team who are all focused on the main goal – so I would say we have a very good chance of being competitive in the race."
Continued Zherebstov; "We have always aimed to assemble a strong team, including one o the industry's top yacht designers, Humphreys Yacht Design. We're using Green Marine, a highly respected boat builder and have Tim Dean, as our project manager. These partners, along with Andreas and Michael Woods, provide a strong core which ahs been further strengthened by our announcement of our crew today."