Danish team nabs idle Team New Zealand sailor

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 07:04 13/08/2014
Chris Nicholson
Reuters
TOP SKIPPER: Australian Chris Nicholson led Team New Zealand's bid in the last Volvo Ocean Race, this time he's doing it for the Danes.

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Team New Zealand's idle round-the-world sailors continue to get picked off with skipper Chris Nicholson named to head a late entry by Denmark into the latest edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Nicholson, who captained Team New Zealand's entry Camper to second in the last race, was confirmed to head the Danish boat Vestas, backed by the country's wind energy company.

They faced a race against time to get ready for the start in Spain on October 4.

The Danish entry completed the fleet, making up the seventh entry.

That spot had initially been on hold for Team New Zealand, but the Kiwis' decision not to enter the race to concentrate their energy and finances on the next America's Cup, left the place available.

Nicholson was a highly respected Australian who would be entering his fifth Volvo.

The Danes, in their first attempt at this race, have also pulled off another coup by hiring former Camper shore team manager Neil Cox.

Cox's ability to operate the logistics would be as crucial to Vestas' chances as the on-water efforts would be given the tight time-frame they were battling.

Nicholson hasn't named his crew yet, but has suggested three of the sailors wouldn't have experience in this gruelling race.

Don't be surprised to see more Team New Zealand sailors involved in the Danish team.

The race was being contested in one-design 65-foot boats.

Nicholson said that was a factor in the decision to make a late entry, believing it made for a more even fleet.

But he felt Vestas would do well to be mid-fleet on the opening leg, and given the jump other teams had on them, it was more about building their effort through the race.

Team Vestas Wind would join Team SCA, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Dongfeng Race Team, Team Brunel, Team Alvimedica and a Spanish team whose title sponsor was yet to be announced, on the start line.

The boat would face its first test on water in mid-August as the crew prepared to sail the 2000 nautical miles qualifying distance, a pre-requisite of joining the Volvo Ocean Race.

''We'll get two weeks of sailing before the start,'' Nicholson said.

''It's unheard of. Most teams will have done at least six times the amount of miles we've done at the start.

''There is no doubt that we want to win. How we are realistic about that is the problem we've got to tackle.

''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.''

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''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.

''We are going to have good guys who know the story, who know how hard it is. We will get there - it will just take us a little bit longer.''

- Stuff

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