Dutch outfit team AkzoNobel seem to have it all – a young but vastly experienced and succesful skipper, a killer crew line-up that puts no less than three Volvo Ocean Race winners alongside some of the planet's most talented youth sailors – and, last but not least, the only brand new boat in the fleet.
At the team's helm is the Netherlands' own Simeon Tienpont. At just 35 years old he already boasts one (and a bit) Volvo Ocean Race experiences, having sailed onboard Seb Josse's 2005-06 entry ABN AMRO TWO, and joined Team Vestas Wind for the final couple of legs in 2014-15. He’s also racked up two victorious America's Cup campaigns in 2010 and 2013.
A quick look down the crew sheet and it's clear that Tienpont's handpicked team are going to be a force to be reckoned with. Thanks to names like three-time race winner Brad Jackson, Brazilian Olympian and triple–racer Joca Signorini, expert navigator Jules Salter and Rio 2016 gold medallist Martine Grael, daughter of race hero Torben, the Dutch campaign heads into 2017-18 jam-packed with skill.
Then there's the race boat – fresh out of the Boatyard in June, the shiny new Volvo Ocean 65 will start the 2017-18 edition with just a fraction of the miles of its counterparts on the clock.
Of course, newer doesn't necessarily mean quicker, and team AkzoNobel finished the multi-stage Leg Zero, a precursor to the 2017-18 edition, in fourth place overall.
They will be looking to improve on that when racing proper gets underway in Alicante with the first In-Port Race on 14 October, followed by the start of Leg 1 to Lisbon just over a week later.
It's no secret that Tienpont wants to become the first Dutch skipper to win the race since the legendary Cornelius van Rietschoten did the double in 1977-78 and 1981-82, but he'll have stiff competition for that title.
The iconic skipper of Flyer and Flyer II is still a Dutch sailing hero – and Tienpont scooped the prestigious Conny van Rietschoten Trophy, awarded in his name, in 2013.
Among the six other teams they'll have to contend with are fellow Dutch syndicate Team Brunel, with none other than Bouwe Bekking, the race's most experienced sailor, back at the helm for his eighth shot at the Volvo Ocean Race trophy.
Team AkzoNobel and Team Brunel have been each based themselves in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, home of the Boatyard, for pre-race training, and with the 45,000-mile race set for an epic showdown into The Hague in June 2018, both teams will be vying for the cheers of their home crowd – and potentially victory in the Volvo Ocean Race.