Top line quotes from the pre-start skippers press conference
With the start of the Volvo Ocean Race less than 48 hours away, the skippers were put under the first wave of pressure by international media today at Volvo Ocean Race HQ at the Skippers Press Conference.
Brad Jackson (NZL), newly appointed skipper of team AkzoNobel:
“Team-wise, we’re just focusing on the race. Basically, we have the same team as we had before except Simeon. It’s thanks to him that we have the team we have. Not too much has changed in terms of how we’re going to work on board or the crew morale. The last few days we’ve been able to focus on what we’re going to do.
“We were lucky that Rome Kirby was available and qualified and ready to go. He’s another Under-30 so that brings us up to 5 Under-30s in the team. It’s a young team but Rome has done the race before with me on PUMA and he has a lot of experience for a young guy. He’s a young, fast guy.”
Charles Caudrelier (FRA), back for his third race and second consecutive campaign with Chinese manufacturer, Dongfeng:
“Last time, when we started the project, we were in China meeting 20 Chinese sailors who had never spent a night offshore and teaching them how to sail. This time we started in Lisbon, with a team I already know. Since the beginning in we are 100 percent focused on the performance. That makes a big change.
What’s the difference between doing the race as crew and skipper? The salary (laughing)!! There’s also the responsibility, of course. When I did the Volvo Ocean Race with Groupama, when I arrived at every stopover I was able to switch my mind off. This time, throughout 9 months you never stop. The big pressure never stops. But I have a strong team around me so I’m a lucky skipper I think.”
Dee Caffari (GBR), only female skipper in the race and the only skipper to choose the 50-50 male/female crew combination (10 sailors) onboard Turn the Tide on Plastic:
“In terms of sailing around the world solo or with a team, it makes a big difference when you have people to share it with and you have different pairs of hands when things happen. The intensity is the thing that gave me the buzz in a team environment and knowing that you’re pushing 100 percent all the time. Your peers around you punish any mistake you make. It’s that intensity that attracts me.
“Everyone talks about Turn the Tide on Plastic as inexperienced. A lot of my sailors are first timers but they are very skilled sailors and they can make a boat go fast. We just need to make sure we don’t make any mistakes, and that we sail to the right place.
“To step up and be a skipper for the first time in this arena is a huge responsibility and I’m probably more nervous about sitting next to these guys than being at sea.
“To create an opportunity for young sailors to sail in the Volvo Ocean Race and see them grow and blossom is a great privilege – as well as getting to spread a great sustainability message.”
David Witt (AUS), skipper of Hong Kong’s first ever entry in the Volvo Ocean Race ‘Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag:
“It’s the best team sport in the world, I think. I got a good commercial offer – and I couldn’t find a better way to lose weight!!
“As has been recorded, I’m a lunatic but I think we’re all lunatics together. The young kid (Ben Piggott) started sailing dinghies for three years and ended up here. He’s dreaming.
“Right now, I’m finding it harder to stay on shore and stay out of trouble. As long as you have good people around you, it’s fine, and it’s safer on the boat than any other race I’ve been in. We have so much safety equipment, and I don’t even know how to use half of it.”
Xabi Fernández (ESP), winner of the pre-race Prologue and In-Port Race: “For us, it’s not about being the favourites. That’s not something we talk about, but we do realise that people think that way. It just makes me think we are ready. We have to sail as fast as we can. I think we are ready but I know these guys around us, on the other teams, are going to be ready as well.
“Hopefully, we can win. I don’t know. We’ve been close before and it didn’t happen. We know how difficult and long it is to win the race.”
Bouwe Bekking (NED), the man with an obsession, back for his eighth attempt at winning the Volvo Ocean Race backed by Brunel:
“Everyone sitting here is a competitor and a sportsman. You want to win. We have a very good chance of winning this competition.
“We were late at the table but that actually gave us an opportunity. The America’s Cup had just finished. I was racing on the J class and bumped into Carlo Huisman, who had been sailing on Team New Zealand. Through him, I got in contact with Pete Burling and the next thing I knew we had the golden boy on the team. He’s won the Olympics, won the America’s Cup, and we also have Kyle Langford, who won the Cup twice.
“The America’s Cup sailors approach the race differently from us, the old school guys. They have a great intensity, and they look hard at everything to do with performance.”
Charlie Enright (USA), backed by Vestas and 11th Hour Racing, this is Charlie’s second race:
“We’re still a young and fresh team. The last time, youth was our thing. Having been around the planet now we’ve logged a lot of miles and we’ve added some crew with a lot of experience. We showed a lot of improvement in the last race form the start in Alicante to the finish in Gothenburg and we want to maintain that trajectory. We won the last leg of the last race and we want to do the same here.”
You can watch the replay of the conference on the Volvo Ocean Race Facebook Page