Two Volvo Ocean 60s were built for the Volvo Ocean Race 2001-02 Assa Abloy campaign, but only one boat would ultimately be on the start line. Both boats were built by Green Marine in Lymington, on Britain’s south coast, on a single female mould as this was thought to be the best way to produce to identical boats.
Raceboat, Assa Abloy, was skippered by Dutchman Roy Heiner for Leg 1, but British sailor, Neal McDonald took over in Cape Town and skippered her to Volvo Ocean Race second place overall, including winning line honours in the 2001 Sydney-Hobart Race, which was part of the Volvo Ocean Race that year, where she beat the favourite, Nicorette. The crew included the late, and much loved, Swedish sailor, Magnus Olsson, who had sailed in four previous races and had been a helmsman aboard Paul Cayard’s winning entry EF Language in the previous Volvo Ocean Race.
The second, unraced boat, built at the same time as Assa Abloy, later became known as Ambersail. Bearing the same distinctive graphics as her sistership, the life of Ambersail LTU 1000 began in 2008 when Lithuanian sailors acquired her for ‘The Millennium Odyssey’ – a national project for 2008-09. During the project, Ambersail sailed around the world visiting 26 Lithuanian communities in different countries and continents in a successful attempt to commemorate the millennium of the name of Lithuania.
After The Millennium Odyssey, Ambersail launched a sports programme, which allowed many Lithuanian sailors to take part in international regattas such as the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the Transatlantic Race, the RORC Caribbean 600, Antigua Sailing Week, St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Les Voiles de Saint Barth and other Caribbean regattas. In 2012 Ambersail once again sailed across the Pacific to take part in the famous Rolex Sydney Hobart race. Participation in regattas, as well as cruising between them, gave Lithuanian sailors an opportunity to explore the most distant oceans and gain experience in blue water sailing.
In the middle of 2013, shortly after returning to her home port of Klaipėda, the third largest city in Lithuania, Ambersail was dismasted and wasn’t relaunched until the mast was rebuilt 2014.
In 2017 Ambersail took on ‘The Other Side of the World’, which was a new sailing project. During almost 10 months, more than 100 Lithuanian sailors drew experience while sailing in the Pacific Ocean and visiting distant places such as the Galapagos, the Marquesas Islands, Tahiti and other French Polynesia islands, Hawaii, Samoa, New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati and New Zealand. During this project Ambersail rounded Cape Horn for the fourth time – and 37 Lithuanians have rounded Cape Horn onboard her since 2008.
Lithuanian sailor, Rokas Milevičius, who competed with Team Brunel in 2014-15 alongside Legends Ambassador and skipper, Bouwe Bekking, will co-skipper Ambersail in the Legends Race.
“Ambersail has already become a legend and a symbol for Lithuanian sailors. It opened us to the possibilities of blue water sailing and international regattas. As the first Lithuanian to take part in Volvo Ocean Race, it as a great honour to race with a Lithuanian crew onboard Ambersail in The Legends Race,” he said. “It is also a big challenge, as we will meet equal rivals who are willing to demonstrate their experience and the potential of the Volvo Ocean 60s. We expect an exciting race and a great reunion with other Whitbread and Volvo sailors from around the world,” he added.
About Assa Abloy
Rig: Fractional sloop
Designer: Farr Yacht Design
LOA: 64’ (19.5m) Crew: 12
Results Whitbread Round the World Race 2001-02
First Leg 3, 5, 8
Elapsed time: 124:10:44:35
Skipper: Roy Heiner/Ned (Leg 1 only)/Neal McDonald/GBR