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Home » Sailing » Volvo Ocean Race: Olympic sailors head out on the big blue ocean

Volvo Ocean Race: Olympic sailors head out on the big blue ocean

Iker Martinez at the helm of MAPFRE

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. Iker Martinez at the helm of MAPFRE. Credit María Muiña / MAPFRE.

In-between Olympic Games and ISAF Sailing World Championships, the world’s best sailors do many different things.

Most of them train and compete full-time. Some work in boatyards or sailing companies. Others have office jobs. And some of them head out to the open ocean… quite literally.

Twelve Olympians will set sail on 11 October from Alicante, Spain in the traditional Leg 1 Start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 for the 38,739 nautical mile adventure around the globe.

There are four Olympic medalists among them, including Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernandez (gold and silver medalists in 2004 and 2008), who are two of Spain’s most famous Olympians. Iker and Xabi are joined on the Spanish MAPFRE boat by Rafa Trujillo, a silver medalist in the Finn class in Athens.

Two-time silver medalist Ian Walker of Great Britain, skipper of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team, rounds out the medalists.

Seven teams from around the world are entered for the 12th edition of this race, including U.S.-Turkish entry Team Alvimedica. With a Turkish sponsor and five Americans on-board, Team Alvimedica features skipper Charlie Enright, a 30-year-old who is leading the youngest team in this race and has never sailed around the world before.

Team SCA is the first all-women’s team to contest the race in over a decade and 2008 Olympian Sally Barkow of the United States is one of three Olympians on the women’s team. Four-time Olympian Carolijn Brouwer (Netherlands) and 2012 British Olympian Annie Lush are the others.

The Volvo Ocean Race features some of the most difficult and dangerous sailing conditions in the sport. Violent storms, icebergs, huge swells – even whales – are some of the natural dangers for the offshore teams, while floating debris, unlit fishing boats, fishing nets and even pirates are some of the man-made concerns as boats sail across the globe.

Conditions on board the new Volvo Ocean 65 one-design boat are spartan, at best, with freeze-dried food, minimal sleep with shifts of just 3 hours off at times and limited space for bathrooms and cooking. Teams closely ration their food to conserve weight and teams have been known to run-out with 1 or 2 days left in a leg if the sailing is slower then expected.

There’s no prize money for winning the Volvo Ocean Race. The Volvo Ocean Race is for the glory of sport and the glory of being able to say you are the fastest-sailor around the world. And in the end, that’s what we all dream of when we first started competing in sport to begin with.

Past Olympians – Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

Ian Walker (Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)
1996 Atlanta – 470 (silver)
2000 Sydney – Star (silver)

Chuny Bermúdez (Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)
2004 Athens – Star

Adil Khalid (Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)
2008 Beijing – Laser

Iker & Xabi (MAPFRE)
2004 Athens – 49er (gold)
2008 Beijing – 49er (silver)
2012 London – 49er

Rafa Trujillo (MAPFRE)
2000 Sydney – Star
2004 Athens – Finn (silver)
2008 Beijing – Finn
2012 London – Finn

André Fonseca (MAPFRE)
2000 Sydney – 470
2004 Athens – 49er
2008 Beijing – 49er

Rokas Milevi?ius (Team Brunel)
2012 London – Laser

Carolijn Brouwer (Team SCA)
2000 Sydney – 470
2004 Athens – Europe
2008 Beijing – Tornado

Annie Lush (Team SCA)
2012 London – Elliott 6m

Sally Barkow (Team SCA)
2008 Beijing – Yngling

Chris Nicholson (Team Vestas Wind)
2000 Sydney – 49er
2004 Athens – 49er

By Robert Penner


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