Friday, March 22, 2013

Rick Deppe- Volvo Ocean Race media guru & J/Sailor delivers VOR65

J/70 or J/65 Volvo Ocean Racer- Rick Deppe(London, England)-  Once upon a time, Ricky was learning the ropes of the yachting world back in 1990.  As a lad from deep in the Midlands of the UK, he managed through serendipity and connections with amazingly nice guys like Richard Mason from Lymington (then at North Sails UK) to connect with leaders in the sailing world.  His intersection with the J/World was to be captain of the J/44 J-HAWK for a period of time (Winner of the 1990 Cowes Week CHS 1 Class and Overall Performance Boat of the Week!), then later other J/Boats teams and then videographer for Discovery Channels "Most Dangerous Jobs" program filming Alaskan king crab fishermen in the Gulf of Alaska. Yes. Ricky is a cool, incredibly nice guy with kids who sailed the Orange Bowl Regatta in Miami over Christmas and all those other things that sailing Dad's are supposed to do!

Ricky is still at it pioneering all manner of how to "bring it live" the Volvo Ocean Race to the world's couch potatoes, armchair navigators and tacticians who all know better!  Working with the Volvo Ocean Race crew, he's now looking after a unique concept in offshore sailing at a "grand prix" level-- uhhhh, one-design Volvo J/65s? Ooops, typo? Perhaps not! The concept was first introduced to the old Whitbread Race mafia back when Sir Peter Blake had just won with the IOR Maxi STEINLAGER.  Peter subsequently teamed up with UBF Finland's Team Manager Mark Musgrove and J/Boats' Rodney & Stu Johnstone to create the "J/Team"-- a 65 foot multi-tasking offshore grand prix racer in 1992 over 20 years ago.  The world does take time to adopt to such revolutionary ideas.  Thank Goodness it's now happening. As an interesting aside, the J/105 hull/sprit concept was an outgrowth of that partnership in 1992-- pioneering the entire sprit revolution as the world knows it today!

Today, we now see Ricky, in no small part of that evolution now looking after the first Volvo Ocean 65 hull.  As he describes it, "the Volvo truck towing it, its driver and three attendees have been on the road for five days now. They left the Persico factory in Bergamo, Italy, this past Friday. They are taking the ferry today from Hook of Holland to Harwich and the crossing from the Netherlands to the UK will take them six hours. The convoy is expecting to arrive at Green Marine in Southampton, tomorrow at lunchtime.

Once in the English boatyard, the hull will be put together with the other elements of the very first One Design boat to be sailed in the next two editions of the race.

But that’s for later. The 65-foot long structure is still traveling across a snowy northern Europe. It is quite a spectacle as the heavy load, taking up two lanes of highway, displays the slogan 'Coming soon to an ocean near you' on the side of the hull.

'It’s really tiring but it’s really fun. It’s just a massive adventure!' says Ricky, who is on the road to report this momentous journey.

'Paul Hamels is driving the lorry. We call him the "Flying Dutchman". He drives a lot of boats and big machinery. His life is quite comparable to that of the sailors. He has an unusual job and is away from home for a really long time. He works very unusual hours.

'He is almost the helmsman of the boat at the moment. When you’re helming a Volvo boat, it’s a lot of responsibility. Well, when you’re driving an exceptional convoy, it’s a lot of responsibility, too. You cannot just turn and go too fast. He plays it pretty cool.'

Hamels may be used to these unusual deliveries but that doesn’t make the trip an easy cruise. The snow in Europe has been slowing the convoy down in Germany, but they made it on time to the ferry nonetheless.

'The other truck drivers have asked Paul what was going on,' adds Rick. 'You see people slowing down and taking pictures. You know, it’s pretty important and we’re going to do it at least seven more times!'

Follow Ricky's Volvo 65 journey here!