With the inaugural Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta and Reunion having come to an end a new chapter has been opened in the Fisher & Paykel New Zealand and Steinlager 2 rivalry and it’s one that Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton is rather happy about.
After some fierce racing in up to 30 knots of breeze the French entry L’Esprit d’Equipe from the 1985/6 race came out on top by just 21 seconds, but perhaps more importantly for Kiwis F&P pipped Steinlager by two places.
This victory has brought to an end over two decades of boasting rights for the Steinlager crew who over the years have wasted no opportunity to remind Grant Dalton and other F&P veterans of their supremacy in the 89/90 race.
Now with Fisher & Paykel having beaten Steinlager over the finish time in their most recent encounter some equilibrium has been restored and Emirates Team New Zealand’s COO Kevin Shoebridge’s ribbing of Dalton has had to be tempered somewhat…
“I’m delighted to see the old boat come out on top,” says Dalton. “Not many people realise but we actually led for more miles around the world than what Steinlager did. This win finally settles that: F&P is the faster boat not to mention the fact that we had a better looking crew 20 years ago as well.”
The Legends regatta was a great success with the fleet providing an impressive showcase of the Volvo/Whitbread’s 38-year history and the boats and personalities that make it such a special event.
Although some of the crew looked a bit worse for wear some mornings, and it’s fair to say that a number had fallen out of racing shape, competition was still fierce and the desire to win as strong as ever.
For the modern day Volvo sailors the Legends fleet was as poignant reminder of the heritage of the race and the fact that the appeal of sailing around the world is as strong now as it was three decades ago.
So with Fisher & Paykel’s pride restored somewhat and with the hangovers beginning to recede the focus turns to the 2011/12 edition of the race and the start of Leg One in just a few hours.