Five decades of around-the-world racing yachts and sailors will be part of the Grand Finale…
A fleet of ocean thoroughbred yachts which have previously taken part in past editions of the Whitbread Round The World Race, the Volvo Ocean Race, and The Ocean Race are assembling in Italy ahead of the 50th Anniversary Legends Regatta taking place in the city of Genova from June 24-July 2, 2023.
This unique gathering of some of the world’s most iconic ocean racing yachts of the last several decades takes place as part of ‘Genova, The Grand Finale’ – the concluding stopover of the 2022-23 edition of The Ocean Race.
The Legends fleet will assemble in Genova on June 24 and will compete in two days of racing – the 50th Anniversary Legends Regatta on Tuesday, June 27 and the Legends Coastal Race Genova – Portofino – Santa Margherita on Friday, June 30 – and will be at the heart of the event’s Legends festivities taking place during The Ocean Race’s week-long Genova, The Grand Finale event.
As well as being able to enjoy the beauty and spectacle of the Legends yachts as they race in the Bay of Genova and along the Italian coastline, visitors to the event will be able to take a close up tour of the yachts during the Open Boat programme taking place on June 24/25 and 28/29, as well as July 2.
The seven competing yachts in the 50th Anniversary Legends Regatta all previously raced around the world in a previous edition of The Ocean Race – originally known at its inception in 1973 as the Whitbread Round The World Race, and then the Volvo Ocean Race from 2001 to 2018.
A competitor in the inaugural 1973-74 race, Tauranga – skippered by Eric Pascoli (ITA) – was one of several Italian entries in this first edition of the race, and finished tenth in the overall classification.
The Gurney 54 Sloop B&B Italia, was skippered by Italian Corrado di Majo (ITA) in the 1977-78 edition when it finished ninth overall.
In the 1981-82 edition the Italian yacht Rollygo – skippered by Italian sailing legend Giorgio Falck – saw crewmember Paolo Martinoni (ITA) successfully rescued after falling overboard in the Southern Ocean.
The maxi yacht New Zealand Endeavour is best remembered as the winner of the 1993-94 edition. On board was New Zealand yachtsman Grant Dalton who went on to compete in a total of five more races.
One of the first of the Volvo Open 70 designs introduced for the 2005-06 race, the Swedish entry Ericsson 1 team finished fifth in the overall classification.
The VO70 Kosatka raced In the 2008-09 race, skippered by Austrian Andreas Hanakamp. Forming a partnership with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation it became one of the first teams in the history of the race to rally behind an environmentally-friendly message. Sailing under the slogan ‘We Sail For the Whale’ their campaign called for the creation of twelve new marine protected areas for whales and dolphins by 2012.
The VO70 Telefonica Blue finished third in the 2008-09 race while skippered by Dutch ocean racing legend Bouwe Bekking, before being rebranded as Team Sanya for the 2011-12 edition when she finished sixth skippered by Mike Sanderson (NZL).
Joining the Legends fleet in Genova will be the five-strong fleet of VO65 boats – each of which took part in the 2015-15 and 2017-18 editions of the race. The VO65s also arrive in the city at the end of third and final stage of the inaugural edition of The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint, encompassing The Ocean Race 2022-23’s first, sixth, and seventh legs.
As well as this vast array of ocean racing yachts representing The Ocean Race’s fifty year legacy of around-the-world racing, many skippers and crew from the race’s past editions will also be joining the celebrations in Genova.
The Legends attendee list includes two race-winning skippers: Paul Cayard (USA) – who won the 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World Race on the Whitbread 60 EF Language – and Ian Walker (GBR) – who became the race’s first British winner aboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s VO65 Azzam in the 2014-15 edition.
Also in attendance will be husband and wife Lisa and Neal McDonald. Each have led teams in the 2001-02 Whitbread Round the World Race – Lisa as skipper of the all-female British-flagged Amer Sports Too, and Neal as skipper of the Swedish entry Assa Abloy.
Additional attendees include: Sir Chay Blyth (GBR), skipper of Great Britain II in the inaugural Whitbread Round the World Race; Bruno Dubois (CAN/BEL), skipper of the Belgian entry Rucanor Sport in the 1989-90 Whitbread Around the World Race and team director of The Ocean Race 2017-18-winning Dongfeng Team (CHN); Dawn Riley (USA) who skippered the all-female Whitbread 60 Heineken in the 1993-94 Whitbread Round the World Race; Austria’s Andreas Hanakamp – skipper of Team Russia’s VO70 Kosatka in The Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09; Jean-Michel (Jimmy) Viant, skipper of Japy-Hermés in the 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World Race; and four-time participant Guillermo Altadil (ESP).
Attending as a special guest will be British yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston – who in 1968 became the first person to sail around the world singlehanded when he won the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. As legend has it Knox-Jonston’s remarkable achievement is what sparked the idea for a fully-crewed race around the world – an idea that came to life as the Whitbread Round the World Race.