When the race arrives in Gothenburg in June 2018, Bekking will also have another roll to play, as he’s also Ambassador to the Legends Race 2018. Thirty-two years ago, Bekking made his round-the-world racing debut onboard the Dutch yacht, Philip’s Innovator, finishing second overall in the Whitbread Round the World Race 1985-86. The distinctive blue boat won the 7,300-nautical mile Southern Ocean leg from Cape Town to Auckland and Bekking’s taste for ocean racing was confirmed.
Bekking’s second race was alongside America’s Cup heroes, Dennis Conner and Brad Butterworth, onboard Winston, a boat full of promise but only delivering a disappointing fourth place finish in the Whitbread 60 division of the 1993-94 event.
Two more races on the 60s, (Merit Cup in 1997-98 and Amer Sports One in 2001) gave Bekking the experience to step up to the plate and skipper his own campaign in 2005-06.
The newly-introduced ‘street fighter’ – the Volvo Open 70 – was a beast and Bekking took the 24-hour monohull world record, sailing 530.19 nautical miles on the delivery from Wellington, New Zealand to Europe. But his campaign was ill-fated and although the boat won Leg 3 from Melbourne to Wellington, she later sank on the trans-atlantic leg to Portsmouth, UK.
Undeterred, Bekking returned at the helm of Telefónica Blue in the 2008-09 event, winning two legs, and finishing third overall, before his latest sint with Team Brunel in the 2014-15 race, in which he also won two legs and finished second.
With a history like this, Bouwe Bekking is the perfect Ambassador for the Legends Race 2018, an event for any boat that has competed in either the Whitbread Round the World Race or the Volvo Ocean Race.
“Happily, I shan’t be sailing in the Legend’s Race next year, as I will be crossing the line some 45 minutes after the Legends fleet,” he joked, referring to the fact that the Legends Race 2018 will use the same start line as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet as they race their last leg of the course to The Hague in the Netherlands. “I will be there for the prizegiving party and the parade of sail though,” he added as he now turns his attention to his next challenge.