Volvo Ocean Race Festival 2015 Den Haag Who ever would have thought. 

19th June - 21st June

Cruising really is all about being flexible with plans and having the luxury of time to make the most of opportunities that may come your way. The Ocean Race Festival was definitely one of those opportunities.

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Every sport has a grand prix event. Most in reality I would say have two - an endurance and a sprint. In sailing I would say Americas Cup is the Sprint event - match racing designed to thrill the crowds from the banks. Volvo Ocean Racing is in contrast pure endurance of boat, body and soul. A little bit of madness must definitely help as well, oh and a very financial sponsor.

Started over 37 years ago and originally call the Whitbread the Volvo Ocean Race is held once every two years in a one design 65 foot boat. This years event began in 2014  in Alicante Spain on the 14th October and finished some 38739 nm and 11 ports later in Gothenburg Sweden on the 22nd June with Team Alvimedica being the first of the seven boats to cross on this last leg from Lorient France. 

The stop over in Scheveningen, was a layover and not a finish to a leg of the Volvo Race. For Den Haag it set the stage around which to hold a massive three day festival. When we first approached the harbour some six weeks earlier we were advised the harbour was full - that was to be expected for such a big event. But as luck would have it a few boats cancelled, then our neighbours to whom we were rafted didn’t mind our company and approached the harbour master on our behalf. Katherine had found a home and we were staying. 

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Music in the harbour began on the Wednesday night from local restaurants, over the next three nights some of the biggest names in Dutch music would perform at the Volvo Village. Boats flowed in and the harbour began to fill with all sized crafts and flags were flown. A great atmosphere to be a part of. 

Friday saw Darb and Nell from Australia arrive followed shortly by Christianne and Bas. We spent the afternoon in the Volvo Ocean Race village. Here we saw a fleet of the traditional Lemsteraak, once an open fishing barge originally transformed to pleasure yachts after the completion of the Ijsselmeer dyke in 1932 saw the fishing vessels use diminished. Over time the Lemsteraak cabin yachts were established as luxurious fast safe sailing vessels and became known as the yacht of the wealthy. Bas explained also that it is a privilege to have your mast head adorned with a gold like spiral mast head - it apparently means you own the boat outright - not the bank.  We viewed the Volvo race boats and walked the information stands before finishing the afternoon of with a bit of Dutch tradition - Bitterballs.   

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That night we dined at the local restaurant Catch by Simonis with Katherine as our backdrop in the harbour. The seafood was fantastic as was the company particularly as Berend and Kirsten were able to join us. 

Next morning we were joined onboard by Elly, Marcel and Lex. Our Gold Cup 2013 Team reunion was almost complete. Elly definitely now takes out the prize for the most pregnant sailor we have had onboard being around 8 months whilst Lex is now definitely our youngest at around 2 years. We would love to have had a coin for every lap he did around the cockpit table or the number of times he said “boat”. He certainly  was the happiest sailor. 

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Not only had we been privileged to get a space in the marina but we had been granted a Green Flag - the key to being allowed to exit the harbour on race day and more importantly return. So around 10am we headed out and over the next 8 hours sailed the shoreline in the company of hundreds of boats of all shapes and sizes. As each Volvo boat came out we would try and determine its sail tactic and if the plan went well we managed to get some good photos and some good sailing in alongside these powerful boats. Bas even took on the challenge of going up the mast but now has a new appreciation for being up a 32m mast at sea and of course now has the bruises for his efforts. That aside he had a great view and got some great photos. 

The crew eating challenge for the day aside from sailing was the eating of a traditional Bossche bollen's supplied by Christianne as a speciality from the pastry chefs in her area. The best description we can give is to describe them as Profiteroles on Steroids - Lee wasn’t up to the challenge. 

It was a great day of sailing, topped off back in shore with an Aussie BBQ onboard Katherine.

We certainly could not have asked for a better way to finish what is now almost our time in The Netherlands. 


(For more photos from this great weekend click here.) 




© SV Katherine 2017      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Faro Portugal with Askari of Australia