The Austrian Ocean Race Project

Date: 01/10/2019

The Austrian Ocean Race Project is a young and ambitious team of international sailors who share the enthusiasm for the big boat sailing. The big goal is to participate in the next "The Ocean Race".

 

We are a young Austrian crew united by one big dream – taking part in the next Ocean Race 2021/22 as the first Austrian team in history.
But until then it’s still a long way to go and we are working towards this goal taking one step at a time.

We are very proud to have reached our first big milestone. We were given the chance to purchase one out of only eight VO65 yachts in the world – the former Vestas – and sailed it from Lisbon to Portopiccolo. There we found a wonderful and very welcoming home from where we are going to dive into many new adventures. Currently, we’re in the kick-off phase of our project with the main focus on funding but also team building.

 

The first few weeks in Portopiccolo mainly revolved around getting the boat ready to sail. We started off by cleaning, sanding and repainting the sails in order for them to suit the new design of our boat.
Besides carrying out general service works on the boat, we tackled numerous logistic challenges on land and worked very hard on building new partnerships and cooperations, as well as finding sponsors.

From the 16th to the 20th of September, our very first training week took place in Portopiccolo. For our sailing team, this was a special week: the entire crew got together for the very first time with the aim of getting to know each other and the boat. For the majority of the crew, although all are experienced sailors, it was the first time on a VO65. The weather conditions were just perfect for a first training session on the new boat and we also managed to get a few nice action shots for our image film, which is going to be presented at the christening of our boat on the 11th of October – so be prepared ;). Of course, a photo session was on the agenda too.

On Friday, our last training day, we welcomed a camera team from the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation – ORF – aboard our ship, which nicely concluded our first crew get-together. We’re very happy about the great achievements of the past few weeks and are super excited for the weeks to come!

Building a Team for our Dream – the 11th October marks the day we got a step closer to our ultimate goal – the Ocean Race 21-22. On a glorious autumn day in Portopiccolo, our boat was christened “Sisi”, after the famous Austrian empress Elisabeth. She is now perfectly ready to sail us across the oceans of this world. Here is a quick glimpse from this special day that over 400 fans and friends shared with us.
Credits :Micky Montoya/ TAORP.

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After a roaring party in Portopiccolo and Sisi’s first regatta participation at the Barcolana, she sailed off to Malta to take part in the Rolex Middle Sea Race. At first, we were really struggling with the weak wind and we had trouble getting Sisi going since she has simply been built for stronger winds. But, as soon as we had passed the Straight of Messina, the wind increased and Sisi dashed off. We fought our way back to the front part of the regatta field and crossed the finish line as 10th and became 8th in our class. We can proudly say that this was a successful second race for Sisi!

After a successful participation in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, our journey continued to Spain. We had a stopover in Valencia, where we changed our crew and continued to the Canary Islands. We had great wind on this delivery and Sisi showed us her racing potential at boat speeds up to 30 knots!

Right now, we are preparing for the ARC Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, a transatlantic race from Gran Canaria to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. This will be Sisi’s first Atlantic crossing under Austrian flag – exciting times ahead!

watch the video

On 6th December 2019, we finally crossed the finish line of the ARC as the first monohull (out of more than 190 boats) in St. Lucia. We were very happy and proud but also terribly exhausted and in need of a thorough shower after 13 days non-stop out on the open Atlantic Ocean. In this race, we got a first glimpse of what would expect us in the Ocean Race – high winds, high waves and no nearby safe port which would provide us shelter.
However, there was not much time to celebrate and relax. Sisi had to be got ready for the journey back to Lisbon, where she will be hauled out of the water for service works in January before heading back to the Caribbean. She has now been en route back to Europe since 8th December – let’s keep our fingers crossed that she and the crew arrive back home in time for Christmas…

The Atlantic crossing back to Europe took longer than expected due to bad weather conditions – there were very high winds (up to 60 knots) and very high waves, which rendered half of the crew sea sick. To give the crew some respite, our skippers decided to stop over in Ponta Delgada on the Azores instead of heading directly to Lisbon. It looked as if the crew would not be back in time for Christmas. Yet, magically, Sisi reached the port of Cascais near Lisbon in the morning of the 24th of December. Exhausted, relieved but also very happy to have been in this adventure, the crew members arrived back at home just in time to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones. Since then, Sisi has been in Cascais for maintenance works in order to be prepared for her upcoming adventures back in the Carribbean.