Team Brunel enlisted for next Heineken Regatta: Volvo Ocean racer chooses St. Maarten as winter base 

POSTED: 08/26/15 2:57 PM


BrunelBowman Gerd-Jan Poortman (left) and skipper Bouwe Bekking hold up the prematurely issues first place flag for next year’s Heineken Regatta. Photo contributed.


St. Maarten – The Volvo Ocean 65 sailing boat of Team Brunel-Sailing Holland will use St. Maarten as its home base this winter for its Caribbean tour, the Heineken Regatta said in a press release issued yesterday. Team Brunel finished second in the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race.

Skipper Bouwe Bekking said at Sail Amsterdam that he is looking forward to the future. “We hope that all of you will join us in the next race 2017-2018. In the meantime we will keep on sailing this boat here in Europe and this winter in the Caribbean.”

The VO 65 will be moored in the Simpson Bay lagoon and be on display at the Yacht Club dock on the Wednesday leading up to the 36th Heineken Regatta next year.

Team Brunel will race in the Gill Commodores Cup and in the regatta; the organization has added a special Former Volvo Whitbread Class for the boat.

First on the boat’s agenda is the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers from Gran Canaria to St. Lucia, a trip of 2,700 nautical miles. From there the team will head to St. Maarten and take part in several other Caribbean races. In between races the boat is available for charter. “That will give sailors a feel for what it is like to sail aboard this racing machine that took second place in the Volvo Ocean Race,” the Heineken Regatta stated in a press release.

During the announcement at Sail Amsterdam, Bekking and Bowman and co-skipper Gerd-Jan Poortman received a Sint Maarten Yacht Club Burgee and a St. Maarten Heineken Regatta first place flag.  Poortman, regarding the flag, stated “This might be somewhat premature for us but we will try and win the new and exciting class of course.” Sailors Jens Dolmer, Louis Balcean and Stefan Coppers were also in attendance. They will sail on the boat in the Caribbean whenever they are able to combine it with their busy schedules.

“We are of course thrilled to welcome Team Brunel to race during the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and we are very pleased that they have chosen St. Maarten as their home base for the winter season,” Regatta director Michelle van der Werff said. “It goes to show that these boats are comfortable here in the Caribbean and we look forward to welcoming more of the Volvo Ocean boats to our event and the region.”

The VO 65 has a lot of innovative features that sailors will appreciate. An overview of these features is available on

There is one feature that non-sailors could also appreciate: the media package. The boat is equipped with five fixed cameras and two uplink points that enable coverage from all angles. The camera and the microphone in the companion way are right in the face of the sailors. Cameras can be remote controlled and directed. The cameras have better protection from wind and water and they enable interviews in the cockpit.

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