Bekking: “The Hague is constantly on my mind”

Bouwe Bekking is a real someone in the sailing world. No other Volvo Ocean Race competitor has put in as many miles as he has. Bekking was already there in 1985, with this being his eight time in the race. So there is nothing you can tell him - the skipper of Team Brunel - about possible surprises along the way or upsets at the finish line. Yet for Bekking (54), this Volvo Ocean Race is more special than any previous edition. After all, at the end of June 2018, the race will finish in the Netherlands. The ultimate destination is The Hague. And that pleases Bekking. “The Hague is constantly on my mind.”

By Edward Swier

Sailors learn not to look too far ahead; it is all about the next leg. You live the Volvo Ocean Race from day to day. So can you already be thinking about The Hague in the first stages of the race?

 “Of course you can. That’s exactly the goal. It is there where you want to be on the highest podium, which is why it’s also playing on my mind. And on the team’s too. We are Dutch, and we remember how amazing that pit stop was two years ago.”

Everyone involved in the Volvo Ocean Race was really impressed

"Yes, I hear it from everyone, still. That was the most amazing pit stop of the Volvo Ocean Race, with so many people. No one can forget a welcome like that. And it is so great that we now have the finish in the Netherlands. We have high expectations. The Dutch are great event organisers, with The Hague being one of the best. The Hague has demonstrated that it can handle major events, with the Hockey World Cup and Beach Volleyball World Cup.”

Are you taking the finish in The Hague into consideration with your sailing strategy?

"No not yet, of course. That’s something you’re definitely not thinking about. It’s obviously more about the overall goal, to be number one. You don’t even think about the rest. Of course, it’s something that’s talked about here in Alicante. Even alderman Karsten Klein is here visiting. He has sailed with us before. And then we have this magnificent clog, with Gerd-Jan Poortman and Stefan Coppers. We do everything we can to promote the Netherlands and the finish in The Hague.”

With four Dutch in the race, you can really have your say.

“That's so true. Having the finish in The Hague is such a great boost for Dutch sailing. Moreover, it’s great that the aspirations in The Hague don’t stop with the Volvo Ocean Race. The Professional Sailing Centre is also in Scheveningen. It gives a chance to everyone, from all walks of life- so not just the public, but politicians and companies too – to see how fascinating sailing can be. All this puts The Hague and sailing truly on the map.”

Are you proud?

“Absolutely. Even though I'm often abroad, I'm still Dutch. The Dutch are special people. We are very internationally oriented, but at the same time, we stick together. Wherever we are in the world, we will always be Dutch.”

What’s so special for you about The Hague?

"My sea sailing career started there. The local yacht club, the KNRM; they are dear to my heart. I went to the Maritime Academy. It’s there that you learn how important the KNRM really are. When you get into trouble with your ship, they - often volunteers - spring into action. It’s unbelievable. I know how important the KNRM station in Scheveningen is. Just like how I value all the sail-related activities in The Hague. ''

So you just can’t wait to set off in that direction.

“Well, we first have 45,000 miles to go. Let's start with that first.”

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