THE West Country will next month have its first crewman in the Volvo Ocean (around the world team) Race for a number of years.
The Turn the Tide on Plastic boat entry have added another four young sailors to their crusading campaign – including Devon offshore exponent Henry Bomby.
The Kingswear youngster will join Dee Caffari’s squad for the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo, lining up with Welsh America’s Cup sailor Bleddyn Mon and the Portuguese pair, Bernardo Freitas and Frederico Pinheiro de Melo. The multi-national quartet, all 30 or under, earned their places following an intense trial period in Lisbon, Portugal, and will be part of the squad that takes on the around-the-world race, starting from Alicante on Sunday, October 22.
‘There is so much young talent out there,’ said former around-the-world yachtswoman Caffari, who is delivering on her pledge to bring a mixed male-female crew with a strong youth component to the start line.
‘Bleddyn Mon is a talented dinghy sailor and was one of the fittest in Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup Land Rover BAR team.
‘As an engineer, he is very analytical; good at checking the data and also a very talented trimmer. I am delighted to have him join our team and look forward to seeing him grow as an offshore sailor.
‘Henry Bomby has many offshore miles under his belt as a short-handed Figaro sailor, and like most good sailors he can turn his hand to numerous activities on board.
‘He is comfortable with fast speeds and in good physical shape. I’m keen to prove that young talented sailors can be just as competitive as the more experienced veterans of the race.’
The team, which will amplify the United Nations Environment’s ‘Clean Seas: Turn the Tide on Plastic’ campaign, counts the Portugal-based Mirpuri Foundation as its principal partner and the presence of Freitas and Pinheiro de Melo will strengthen that Portuguese connection.
‘We trialled eight Portuguese sailors to finally select Bernardo and Frederico,’ added Caffari. ‘There is limited offshore experience in Portugal but some really good sailors. Both sailors I have chosen are physically strong with good skill sets.’
Alongside the sustainability focus, inclusivity in age and gender will be a strong theme of the campaign. Last week, the team welcomed Italian Olympic sailor Francesca Clapcich, (29), and Lucas Chapman, (25), to the squad, joining skipper Caffari and boat captain Liz Wardley.
The ‘Volvo’ will visit 12 host cities during the 2017-18 edition – departing Alicante and stopping in Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport USA, Cardiff and Gothenburg before a big finish, 45,000 nautical miles later, in The Hague next summer.
Run since 1973, it is often regarded as sailing’s toughest race to win, and the ultimate test of a team in professional sport with four oceans and six continents to conquer.