Nilson’s first round the world race was in 1981-82 onboard Alaska Eagle, winner of The Whitbread in 1977-78 as Flyer. The yacht has now been beautifully restored by her original builder and was the first boat to enter the Legends Race.
Nilson’s second race was also a notable one, sailing with Duran Duran front man Simon Le Bon, in 1985-86, onboard his maxi Drum, which finished third in the Maxi class.
Although more readily known as a world-class navigator, Nilson has also twice been the skipper of a Whitbread raceboat: first with the maxi yacht The Card, who famously lost her mizzen mast when she became entangled with a spectator boat at the leg start in Auckland (she continued the leg as a sloop), and second with the Whitbread 60 Intrum Justitia until a knee injury brought his leadership to a close after only one leg.
Nilson is also a medical doctor and his skills have often come into play while at sea. He set the broken arm of a crewmember onboard The Card, making a cast as best he could in the rough circumstances. Onboard Amer Sports One, also sailing in the Legends Race, he saved the life of one of the crew when an intestinal blockage became serious.
“Racing round the world has been an enormous part of my life and I am very excited that a fleet of Legends boats will be here in Sweden, my home country, next year. It’s going to be an event not to be missed and I will be there to cheer them on", Nilson said.
A fleet of five yachts has entered the Legends Race so far, which will take them from Gothenburg to The Hague, starting on the same start line as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on its final leg of the 2017-18 race, but 45 minutes earlier.
Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race boats that Roger has sailed on:
1981-82 Alaska Eagle
1989-90 The Card (Skipper)
1993-94 Intrum Justitia (Skipper Leg 1)
1997-98 Swedish Match
2001-02 Amer Sports One
2008-09 Telefónica Black