Together they form one of the most solid crews in the round the world regatta. 11 talented crew members who together make up a single crew. The members know each other well and their greatest virtue is the appreciation of the fact that team work is the backbone of any crew, and in the words of Iker Martínez: “you don't need eleven 'Messi''s, just that each and every one of the crew does their job well and that as a whole they work well together”.
We're taking a closer look at the crew today: How did the Volvo Ocean Race leading crew come about? What does a crew need to win a round the work regatta? What are the guys on “Telefónica” really like? Over to Iker Martínez...
In unity there is strength
The idea behind this was simple: to build a much more 'Latin' team. So what does that actually entail? “A more 'Latin' team is one where there would be a closer relationship between the team members, increased communication and where the team would try a lot harder to make the most of any advantage, however small” explained Iker Martínez.
With a dose of self-criticism, which is never a bad thing, there is also a downside to this 'Latin' crew approach: “The 'Anglo-Saxon' crews are always very organised and that brings a lot of good things with it. In reality, the ideal approach might be a balance between their organisation and ours, but I am certain that Latin people trying to work like Anglo-Saxons and vice versa is a very bad thing”, said Martínez.
This is a regatta where the racing takes place over nine months, but preparation for it begins a lot earlier. In the case of Team Telefónica it's been two years since the core team formed and there are still four months of racing to go.
Many months away from home, 24 hours, 7 days a week and under the constant pressure of a competition that doesn't permit a single false step. Overall during the regatta itself every one of the team members makes a considerable sacrifice on a personal level to dedicate themselves exclusively to this project. In these conditions time also takes it's toll on the team.
Finding a balance isn't easy, but for the Basque skipper the Spanish team is on the right track: “In the end it's about finding a way for all of us to be at ease and for now I think we've found a balance where people feel respected and there is good communication between us and everyone helps out the guy beside them. I myself feel peace in the knowledge that both on shore and at sea, if I need a hand then all of the people in this team would help me out. I think that's key”, says the skipper.
What does a team need to have a chance at overall victory?
The key: to be a complete and an all-round team (the latter is perhaps the most repeated expression by Iker Martínez during this chat). “There are a series of things that you just can't do without, and if you're missing any of them it means a big hole in the team and once you've got that, it's very hard indeed to get through the round the world race without it holding you back”.
It's not only the crew on board that must be a well-rounded whole, but the entire shore crew behind the eleven on board crew members. “That is something that must shine through in the team, because in the end the boat sailing out there on the water has been prepared on shore, with lots of other people in the team involved. In fact, the sailors are often not around and the boats are prepared by the shore crew guys”, explains Martínez.
“In the end it's the all-round factor that's going to lead you to overall victory if the machine you're handling is up to it. Normally the good machines are in the hands of all-round teams who have the across-the-board knowledge to create that in a boat beforehand and to come up with a great yacht”, he concludes.
One by one… According to Iker Martínez
Xabi Fernández: A warrior
Xabi is a warrior and a person with incredible technical knowhow, but his greatest virtue lies in the strength that he has to fight when it's really needed.
Pepe Ribes: A great sailor
He's a person with a great passion for the sea and I think that is why he's been able to reach the level and breadth of knowledge he has when it comes to the boat itself. I don't think anything could ever happen to Pepe on board a boat, because he would always find a solution. He's a person with that bit extra, the ability to be a 'McGyver' on the boat and at the same time to be incredibly competitive and to make the boat go very fast, and that's hard to do. The are lots of 'McGyvers' around and lots of people who can push the boat to go fast, but having the two skills is something rare. Pepe has them.
Jordi Calafat: A man with clear ideas
He's a great driver, a great trimmer, a great tactician... and he's obviously demonstrated that by winning the Olympic games and lots of other regattas. Where he's now got the most responsibility in this regatta is in making this boat fast. The whole sail area is more open now, with a lot fewer restrictions than in other areas, which means that it's an area where the imagination is most free. It's also where most of the big differences between the entries are right now. Being in charge of an area that offers up so many different possibilities is something complex and you have to have very clear ideas, and Jordi definitely has them.
Pablo Arrarte: Patience and being an all-rounder
He is also a great all-rounder. He is patient, which is very important. He's also young and very strong. He has incredible physical strength, but I think that the best thing about Pablo is that he's a great professional racer, he drives very well, he has a lot of patience on board and he's a very easy person to work with, which is something that over time you really appreciate. His seamanship is consistently improving and he's better at dealing with the boat and he's one of the people who comes up with the most solutions for repairs.
“Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons: Passion and strength
He's one of the boat's bowmen and like Pablo he has incredible physical strength. He's got an extraordinarily good physical shape for this type of boat and he's very brave, which is essential in a bowman. The good thing is also that he is increasingly more cautious too. He's a very confident and he's passionate about sailing and loves being at sea as well as practicing lots of other sports. It's also clear that he's got a great ability to adapt and for working in a team.
Andrew Cape: A “mad” genius
He is a very special person, a sort of 'mad' genius, if you will. He's been sailing for years, he's won a lot of races and some very important ones such as the America's Cup. He has an amazing talent and right now I think that he's one of the best navigators in the world. He's a true seaman and he's the typical sort of person you want to have on board for security and because you know he's very competitive and it's clear that he is obviously very talented at what he does.
He's passionate about sailing and he's delighted when he's on board. We understand each other much better when we're sailing than we do on shore. That's just the way it is. He's a person that I'm currently sharing some great moments with and he really does surprise me every day because he is very clear about what you have to do to win a regatta.
Neal McDonald: A 'Braveheart'
He's one of those people whose knowledge stretches to absolutely everything to do with boats: sails, masts... He's an engineer and I think that's why he has a complete grasp of anything numerical, and he's sailed in so many classes: skiffs, monohulls, multis... and in all of them he's been involved directly with the design and the efficiency of the boat.
Having done so much sailing, he's confirmed over and over again what will work and what won't. Before we began this regatta he clearly told us: “What I can help you with above all is not to make the same mistakes I've made in the past”. He really is helping us a lot with this, not only in trying to win the regatta, but in doing everything we can not lose it.
He's very patient, he drives very well and he's able to fix anything and apply his engineering knowledge to any aspect of the boat to get good results.
Zane Gills: A diesel engine
Zane is another one of the young guys. He's physically very strong and he is very patient. He's a diesel-powered engine and it gives you great peace of mind to know that on both days 1 and 21 of racing he'll be the same. Despite his youth, he's got a lot of experience on big boats and loves being at sea. You see him sailing in the middle of the ocean and you can see he's at ease and he's enjoying it.
“Joca” Signorini:Talent from Brazil
He's an all-rounder too. He's been at the Olympic Games, round the world regattas (he's won one) and he's raced extensively on other boats... He's a driver and he's a really great trimmer. He's able to handle the boat and to deal with any types of conditions, and he can do that in both light and strong winds. He's at ease at sea and he enjoys it. He's a person with a lot of talent and he's been very important in the optimisation of the boat. The fact that he's such an all-rounder means that he brings a lot to the boat across all areas and it means that his opinion is always very important to the team.
Diego Fructuoso: On the news pulse
He's really surprised us. When we started sailing it was hard on him, but he was brave, he pushed forward and things have really turned around for him. He was the only one of us not to have done any ocean sailing before getting on the boat, so it was a much bigger leap for him. He has a great attitude on board and he has surprised me because he's gone from zero to being someone who is at ease on the boat. The job of the MCM is complex. Diego isn't a pro in the field and at the beginning he didn't have the necessary knowledge, but little by little he has adapted well. He knows that he has to make a big effort, but in terms of helping us on the boat with the nutrition and hydration he's done the job well. He's lucky enough to also have a great sense of humour.
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