Saturday, 31 January 2009
Bouwe Bekking. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Javier Sobrino
Bouwe Bekking and TELEFONICA BLUE crossed the finish line in Qingdao on Thursday morning, after 2500 horrendous nautical miles from Singapore. The Spanish boat won this Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09, the second win in a row, reducing the gap with Ericsson 4 in the leaderboard. After enjoying the taste of this heroic win, having a good shower, a long desired dinner and a deserved sleep, Bouwe Bekking put himself in front of the computer to tell us about his feelings:
"HAPPY AND RELIEVED. These two words shot first through my head when we passed the finish line. HAPPY - it is a great win for our team and our sponsors. This leg will go in the history books as one of the most extreme ones in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race, so it's nice to put that one under our belt and, of course, we gain more points on the leaders. RELIEVED - because we came through this leg in one piece; some small repairs have to be done, but we will be easy ready for the next in-port race. This was the leg I always feared the most, since the day that we learned we had to go to Qingdao."
"Maybe some of you remember what I said during the press conference in Singapore, two days before the start of this leg. I quote: "if we were in the position of Ericsson 4 on the score board, I would have started, collect a point, then return to the harbour and ship my boat to Qingdao!!". And I have been right; see the damage list: 3 boats have broken down and we know for sure our team mates on the Black boat have retired, and I very much doubt if the Ericsson 3 and Delta Lloyd are not going to do the same, plus structural damage to other boats as well. It has been a carnage leg."
Bouwe Bekking waves to the crowds in Qingdao. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.
"So, how was our arrival? We had a thick fog, 20 meters visibility and travelled with15 knots of boatspeed to the finish line. We arrived well before the Committee had expected us, and all the film crew missed us, so areal stealth finish, but the joy about this win was not less, a big smile appeared on my face. We did it again."
"The prizegiving was something special. A huge crowd had gathered, and the first thing I got presented when I hopped of the boat was a golden warrior helmet, a lance and cape. Not what we are used to, but this culture is different, and did not want to ruin their show, so played carnival for 15 minutes. They had created a mini Chinese wall of about 200 meters long, who were filled on both sides with people playing drums, impressive!! So, over the "wall" we walked towards the main stage. Unfortunately, the officials wanted me to walk next to the mayor of Qingdao, in front of my team, but I played along. Then, it seemed everybody had to do a speech, but we didn't bother, and enjoyed the view of the crowd."
"Once the prizegiving was over, we did our normal medical check up, doing our blood test, plus a weight and blood pressure check. Then, we went with the entire team (including shore team) to have few drinks down town. A great way to finish the day."
"This morning early up and had my 2nd medical done. I have tear in a muscle in my buttocks, and we are working around the clock to get me ready for the next leg, which means as well, that I will be staying in China. The temptation to go home is huge, but it will not help my recovery, and that has priority number one. Have to use Skype a lot so at least I can see my girls faces."
Volvo Ocean Race