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An ode to the team of Volvo 65 Sisi

An ode to the team of Volvo 65 Sisi

An ode to the team, or how you can sail fast even with two left shoes and a healthy dose of passion

As the crew of the Austrian Ocean Racing – Team Genova approaches the finish line of Leg 01 of the Ocean Race, there’s a little time to talk a bit about the road that led the team to this moment. The road was rocky and paved with obstacles. Giving up was not an option. Through the ambitious efforts of each crew member, obstacles became tests of courage, and stones became experiences which were overcome as a team.

The team arrived in Alicante at the last moment, and when they moored Sisi in the Ocean Live Park, it was clear that the boat was not quite ready to go. The hull, deck and areas below deck were completely overhauled. We painted, glued and screwed until a few hours before the event to make sure the boat was in top condition on race day. A lovely boat – until the sails were hoisted. Still in the old Vestas look, patched here and there and in no way suitable for the entire Ocean Race. We looked like a kid with two left sneakers because he packed the wrong stuff for gym class. We didn’t seem to be adequately prepared for the race. The performances at the Practice and In-Port Race didn’t give much hope either.

16 January 2023, Leg 1, day 2, onboard the Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova
Stefan Leitner / Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova – 16 January 2023, Leg 1 onboard Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova.

However, this did not dampen the positive attitude and determination to participate in the race. They always had the race in mind, gave everything and were always passionate about what they were doing. Nobody except the team itself had ever believed in the success of an Austrian team in the Ocean Race, but they didn’t care. In September 2022, they started the refit in Genoa, as a partner contract was already about to be signed. In Genova, the whole team came together to prepare the boat for the race. However, the more time spent on the refit, the less likely the partner contract would be finalized.

Nevertheless, they worked day and night on the boat. They persevered because they firmly believed in the success of the project. This passion, this fire for the project, did not go unnoticed in Genova. So one door closed, but at the last minute, another, more exciting one opened. The port city of Genova is used to believing in the impossible, and it knows what is feasible when you go to work with the enthusiasm they exuded as a team. So it was clear that the port city of Genova would support such an ambitious team. With Genova as a partner, there was a new positive push, and the cards were reshuffled. A 36-hour shift was completed before Christmas so they could spend a day home with their families before the final sprint.

Stefan Leitner / Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova16 January 2023, Leg 1 onboard Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova
Stefan Leitner / Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova – 16 January 2023, Leg 1 onboard Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova.

Not everything worked smoothly on this rocky road. They had to make sacrifices, and in their case, it was the sails. As you can imagine, sails have a significant impact on a boat’s performance. During the first 1,000 miles, they showed they could sail fast even with old sails. The more challenging the sailing was, the more likely they were to be in the top field. They came out of the Strait of Gibraltar in third place. The sailing skill, the extra mile of the team and a navigator who never sleeps made up for this disadvantage. They may have two left shoes on, but even with those, they can run fast, even if it’s a little more painful.

Regardless of the position in which they eventually arrive in Cabo Verde (they came in third), the passion for sailing has always been at the centre. The drive that led their team to success cannot be measured in numbers. The drive that kept them in the middle of the pack on a problematic leg, despite two left shoes, was generated by more than just sheer wind.

Video from Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova at 20/01/2023 21:14 UTC

They are officially in the Ocean Race family thanks to their dedication and hard work.  They probably worked harder than the other teams to achieve this honour, but they have come to stay. Austrian Ocean Racing – Team Genova.

Update 22 January 2023: Third position for Austrian Ocean Racing

With the top two positions decided, it appeared Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team would claim the third position. But as the team approached Mindelo, it announced it would retire from Leg One after having missed a mark on the race course back in the Gibraltar Strait.

Observant fans of the race tracker will recall the Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team boat traced a course to the south of and into an exclusion zone, which was also designated as a mark of the race course. By not correcting the error, the team would not have scored points for its efforts in stage one of the race and elected to retire from the leg before finishing.

A statement from the team read: “… technical issues onboard resulted in us failing to leave the South Gibraltar Exclusion Zone to port as per the racing instructions. As we have missed a mark of the course, the team has decided to retire from Leg One of The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint 2023.”

“We are very disappointed about this,” admitted skipper Antonio Fontes. “But the crew has done an amazing job getting us out of the Mediterranean in very hard conditions. Then we had the super fast sailing conditions in the Atlantic and it was a lot of fun racing from Gibraltar to here.”

The retirement opened the door to a podium finish for Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova, who was the last team enter The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint and only arrived in the start port of Alicante, Spain days before the beginning of the event.

Featured photo: Stefan Leitner / Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova – 16 January 2023, Leg 1 onboard Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova

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