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IKER AND XABI PICK UP ROLEX SAILORS OF THE YEAR 2011 PRIZE

07-09-2012

Following the award ceremony Iker and Xabi headed for Lanzarote, where they will commence their intensive Olympic training schedule.

On this Monday, July 9th, some eight months after the title was revealed Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández finally picked up the prize awarded to them as the ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year 2011 at a ceremony held in Madrid at the headquarters of Rolex Spain.

 

The news was made public on the 9th of November: ISAF, the international federation for sailors had named Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández as the sailors of the year at an event held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. However, Iker and Xabi didn't receive the news amid the protocol and solemnity of a federation event but in the North Atlantic, whilst they were competing in the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race aboard “Telefónica”. The leg became the first win for the Spanish Volvo Open 70.

 

The reasons behind the decision to award the title to Iker and Xabi were patent, with the Spanish pair boasting an impeccable sporting record and having demonstrated an incredible adaptability in their field in 2011, moving from the 49er class successfully to the IMOCA Open 60 class to then go on to sail on board the VO 70 “Telefónica”. Right now the Basque duo have a fresh objective in their sights and having just finished the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway (Ireland), their next challenge are the Olympic Games and London 2012 where they will be back competing on the 49er “Movistar”.

 

Together Iker and Xabi have notched up two Olympic medals, three world titles and three european titles, as well as successes in offshore classes such as a world speed record with “movistar” in 2005 and third place with “Telefónica Blue”,  as well as silver in the Barcelona World Race.

 

We would like to thank ISAF and Rolex for these fantastic awards which really are the fruits of a great season for us and of the great careers we've enjoyed over the past four years. It's been four years since the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and London 2012 and in that time frame we'll have done two Olympics and been round the world three times”, confirmed Iker Martínez, who added: “We'd also like to thank ADO, our sponsors and our families for all their support”.

 

Iker also revealed what the Spanish pairs objectives are for the Olympics in London: “The aim now is to be as prepared as possible for the Olympic Games and to fight for medals. We'll be training for a week at the Marina Rubicón in Lanzarote in strong winds, which is what we want and it's perfect for training as conditions are very similar to those we'll get out on the racecourse at Weymouth”.

 

From Olympic to offshore sailing

Iker and Xabi began their joint careers back in 1999 aboard a 49er. It was also the boat that took the Basque duo to their first great triumph: a world title held in Hawaii (USA) in 2002. Two years later Iker and Xabi repeated that success, this  time in Athens, on the same racecourse on which months later they would take the much sought after Olympic gold.

 

They had the biggest titles behind them, but Iker and Xabi announced that they were taking on a new challenge and signed up for the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 with “movistar”. On that occasion Iker Martínez was on tactics for the in-shore racing whilst Xabi Fernández was trimming and helming in a round the world regatta that they will never forget. On 5th April 2005 “movistar” took the speed record by sailing 530 miles in 24 hours during a training session in the South Pacific, between Wellington (New Zealand) and Cape Horn. The boat also became the first Spanish boat to win an offshore leg in a round the world race.

 

Three times round the world between two Olympic Games

Following their first taste of offshore racing the Basque sailors stepped back aboard a 49er to become european champions for two consecutive years. In 2007 they did so in the waters of Marsala (Italy) and in 2008 they took the title again in Palma de Mallorca (Spain). They also took a silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Soon after the Olympic regatta was over, Iker and Xabi headed for Alicante to fall in with “Team Telefónica” and to join the bid for  the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009. This time Iker headed up the crew of the VO70 “Telefónica Blue” alongside Bouwe Bekking, whilst Xabi was back trimming and helming. The Basque pair would notch up more successes for Spanish sailing. “Telefónica Blue” finished on the podium of sailing's most extreme regatta, taking third place overall after two leg victories and a pair of scoring gate wins as well as four in-port race victories.

 

After the round the world regatta Iker and Xabi took on a new challenge: they wanted another world title, the third in their careers. After lots of training and effort, Iker and Xabi scooped the title of world champions yet again, this time in the Bahamas.

 

Now three-time world champions in the Olympic class the pair boarded the IMOCA Open 60 “MAPFRE” to take on the Barcelona World Race, the double-handed, non-stop round the world regatta in which Iker and Xabi not only took silver overall but also became the first Spaniards to cross the finishing line, and they also became the first crew to complete the round the world regatta without making any stops and having received no external assistance.

 

On the 7th July, last Saturday, Iker and Xabi finished the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 in Galway (Ireland) and climbed onto the podium for the final in-port race and also notched up three consecutive offshore wins.

 

Right now the Basque sailors are fully immersed in their Olympic training in preparation for London 2012 where they are set to represent Spain in the 49er class.

 

A second ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year title for Team Telefónica

In 2005 Fernando Echávarri and Antón Paz became the first male Spanish sailors to be awarded the international honour. This is now the second time that Iker and Xabi take the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year title for Spain and for Team Telefónica, becoming Spain's most successful sailing crew ever and the world's best sailors of 2011.

 

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