Spain's royal sailing federation, the RFEV announced today that sailors Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández have been chosen as the crew to represent Spain at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the 49er class category. We spoke to the Basque pair in Brazil, where on Sunday they will commence the sixth leg in the Volvo Ocean Race.
Sailors of the year, current leaders in the Volvo Ocean Race and now you're facing your third Olympic Games... does it get any better than this?
Iker Martínez: You can always do better and of the three things you mentioned only one is complete, which is the award from last year. We're still competing in the 'Volvo' and we'll have to see how it goes as there's still a long way to go. As for the Olympic Games, well they're in August. There's a lot ahead and we hope it will all go well, but it might not. For now we're focussing on finishing this round the world regatta in the best possible position and then we'll be ready put our energies and enthusiasm into preparing for the Olympics. There's a point where you do what you can and try to ensure that things go as well as possible, and that's what we'll be doing.
How did you react to the RFEV news?
Xabi Fernández: We are very happy and of course, this is great news for us. You might have an idea it's coming, but until it actually does you have to wait and that's always a bit nerve-wracking. It's great news for us that we'll be there and that we are in the running for another Olympic Games title. There's still a long way to go and we have to keep calm, finish this regatta and then prepare and train as best we can.
What sort of training schedule do you have in mind?
Iker M.: Until the Volvo finishes, of course, we've got to keep fighting as hard as we can and that's what we're going to do. On the upcoming stopovers, if we can we'll try to do some training. Meanwhile lots of other things can be done and we'll try to make sure they do: the boat preparation, as the equipment is important and physically we'll be trying to get into the best possible shape... I think we'll use the time ahead to physically get into shape and so that when we finish the 'Volvo ' we can really make the most of the little time we have. We can't really say much more right now. We just have to hope that this round the word regatta goes as well as possible, that we don't run into any breakages or issues, as that will give us more time and will allow us to do more 49er sailing. It will allow us to push forward on that track, because it won't be easy for sure. That's what we've got in mind. With little time, we'll have to try to get the very most out of the days and hours we have available to us, which will mean improvising as much as we can, so improvisation will be what we'll have to do over the next few months.
You performed well at Weymouth last year, without having followed the normal training schedule that you're used to for 49er racing. Do you think that the Weymouth racecourse, with its strong winds is a strong point of yours?
Xabi F.: Weymouth is a great course to sail in general, and also for us. I think they usually get good conditions there and it's a place where there's wind, but not in excess and the waves are not too big. It might mean that we can get away with the slight lacking in preparation that we are likely to have. The conditions might not be as tricky as at the Olympics in Beijing, where this limited training schedule would be unthinkable. We like the place and whenever we've sailed there it's usually gone well for us and that's definitely a plus.
Have you been able to follow the progress of you future rivals for 2012 at all?
Iker M.: We all know each other very well and have been racing against each other for years. It's also true that there are some younger sailors, who joined not long ago, but we know them too. In that sense, everyone tries to follow the best possible training schedule for themselves and we'll be seeing everyone at one hundred per cent. People train for the Olympics over four years and they're all going to be at peak performance when they get there. Now the question is whether we'll be one hundred per cent or not and that's what we have to worry about now.
Have you set any clear goals for London 2012?
Xabi F.: Talking about goals is tricky. The aim when you go to any Olympic Games is to come back with a medal and there's a huge difference between doing that or not doing it. Due to the fact that we'll be having an unconventional preparation for the games, our aim will be to do the best we can, to give it our all and to come out of it feeling that we did all we could. We'll be fighting for a medal, of course, really going for it but we'll see what happens. We have to stay calm and be aware of the situation we're in.
IKER MARTÍNEZ AND XABI FERNÁNDEZ SHORT TRACK RECORD
Olympic sailing: 49er
Gold medal. Athens Olympic Games. 2004.
Silver medal. Beijing Olympic Games. 2008.
3 World Championships. 2002, 2004, 2010.
1 Runner -up World Championships. 2001.
3 European Championships. 2002, 2007, 2008.
1 Runner-up in European Championships. 2001.
3 Bronze medals in the European Championships. 2000, 2003, 2006.
3 wins at the French Olympic Sailing Week. 2002, 2006, 2008.
2 wins at the Trofeo Princesa Sofía. 2001, 2002.
2 wins at the Barcelona Olympic Sailing Week. 2001, 2002.
2 wins in the Spa Regatta. 2002, 2004.
1 Kieler Woche. 2008.
3 wins in the Christmas Race. 2001, 2002, 2006.
Current leaders in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 with Team Telefónica.
2nd place, Barcelona World Race 2010-2011. IMOCA Open 60 “MAPFRE”.
3rd place, Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009. “Telefónica Blue”.
Two leg victories
Four in-shore race victories
Two scoring gate victories
Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006. “movistar”.
One leg win. The first ever Spanish entry to win a leg in a round the world regatta.
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