1. You are “Telefónica”'s Technical Director, could you explain exactly what that title entails?
My job starts the moment the campaign kicks off, and technically speaking I'm involved in the development of the new project. We used “Telefónica Blue”, the team's former yacht as a basis for collecting data and for experimenting with everything that we might want to implement in the new design. My role was to be the link between the sailing we did with the boat, as I also sailed on it a lot, and the Juan K design studio. So I was the interlinking piece between the sailing and development, making sure that it was put into practice in the project.
After that stage, during the new build of “Telefónica” I was also the link between the studio and the shipyard, representing the team. A Volvo Ocean Race team doesn't have a project team as such, we used Juan K and his studio and there were certain people working exclusively with us, so my role was to form part of that and to make sure that all of the ideas came from our team and that the information stayed within the team. Another important part of that was to make sure that the things we wanted done were done, and to take part in things at the shipyard to be sure that things were being done how we wanted them to be. In addition there was the whole matter of purchasing; choosing who'd provide the daggerboard, the keel, the bulb etc. From 2010 to the boat's launch, that was basically my job.
With the regatta underway, of course, my job involves using my in depth knowledge of the boat's history and of all of the technical side of things and to try to make the boat better and better. I also have to be completely sure that the boat is in condition to push forward into every new leg.
That's more or less the nuts and bolts of the role of Technical Director.
2. How did the decision to choose Juan K as a designer play out?
Juan K was chosen by Team Telefónica. Pedro Campos and Iker contacted the studio. After that they also called me to be part of the whole process.
3. Let's talk about the crew... How were they selected?
Iker had an idea of what he wanted, who he wanted and that he wanted to go for an even more 'Latin' crew than he'd worked with on the last two editions of this race. I think that he's achieved that and he's managed to create a great atmosphere among the team and I also think that's really important. The shore crew and everyone else have worked very well together for two years, and that always helps. If you have problems behind the scenes it shows in the results.
4. You must be really pleased with the boat, because it's quite clear that it's very fast...
Yes, I am really happy with what we've achieved. That's no great leap when you look at one boat or the next, but a boat is made up of many different details and it's carefully crafted. It's no standard package – it might look like that, but we've worked on refining so many different things over the whole year we spent developing the project with the old boat, and then after that we were also lucky enough to have a lot of time to sail with the new boat.
5. You'll often hear that a happy crew is a fast crew. Do you think that with Team Telefónica it's not only a matter of the boat and sails being crucial, but that perhaps the atmosphere on board among the crew is also pushing the boat forward?
Yes, there's no doubt about it, and history has already proven that. I remember “Ericsson 4” from the previous edition and we didn't make any changes to the crew at all, so it was a crew that was together right from training to the end. I think that is important and it's also what's happening with us. I'm sure that this is all shows in the results and when you start off by winning, it's easier for that to be the case for the rest of the regatta, but when you start off losing the risk that things go badly increases.
We've been lucky and things have gone well since we began sailing with the project itself and we've had the same people, the same elements and the same philosophy and ideas throughout, with everyone working on their area without others stepping on their toes, with trust between us and everyone getting on with their work, and I think that's really important.
6. Is it hard to see your team win and not be on board or is it enough for you to be part of the shore crew?
I'm happy where I am and happy that we are winning. I see it from a team perspective. The hard thing is to be on shore when something goes wrong and not to be out on the water to lend a hand... that really is tough. As a sailor, of course, you always want to be out there, but I'm happy with our set-up and as a team we are a very tight-knit unit in that sense.
7. With your experience as a Volvo Ocean Race winner on one occasion and to be leading now, would you like to work on other editions of this regatta?
The Volvo Ocean Race is tiring, it takes a big toll on family life and the preparation requires a lot of dedication. In the end it's about two years of preparation and seven or eight months of racing, but I'd definitely take part in another edition of the race. It all depends on what happens in the future, the America's Cup is there, there are some other proposals around and we'll see how the next edition of the Volvo takes shape.
8. This is a very long regatta with lots of points in play until the end. When do you think that Team Telefónica might be able to consider the regatta as won?
Well, I'd say that you have to look at this mathematically. When the points say 'you've won', that's when you can say you've won. These boats are designed, they're tested, but nothing prevents say, a part of the mast breaking, or that the mast may suffer from the fatigue of all the racing and suddenly you've lost your rig. In that sense it's important to take measures and to be safe, but for now we've got a fast boat and that's the way it is. The other teams are improving and the regatta is long and things can change.
9. After taking the third leg comparisons with “ABN AMRO 1” from the 2005 edition and “Telefónica” in this edition began to circulate. Both teams won each leg. What risks does “Telefónica” face over the coming legs?
As I already said, this is proving to be a very competitive race. I think we have sailed well and we have a boat that performs well across the board, that stands up to conditions of light breeze and with a lot of breeze and the sailing has been good. The fact that we sailed and trained over a long period of time meant that we were able to build a boat which was strong and reliable and I hope that continues to be the case.
Both the skipper and crew have done a great job. I think they've barely made a mistake and there's no comparison to be made there with “ABN AMRO”. I don't wish to take anything away from their victories, but they weren't just a few tenths of a knot faster in some conditions, like we might be, but it was two knots faster, so it was really difficult not to win all of the Volvo Ocean Race legs with a boat like that. Our case is that we've sailed well in these three legs and we'll see how we do in the next ones; if we sail well, will we win, if we sail more or less ok will we be third or if we have a bad sail will be come in fifth? The in-shores have shown that, although they are a case apart to some extent because a lot depends on the start and they are very short races.
But anyway, I think there's still a chance for us to finish fourth or fifth and it'd be no great surprise. It would have been very difficult for “ABN AMRO 1” to finish in fourth or fifth though, I can tell you that (he laughs). I took part in that regatta and it was two knots faster than us.
10. Who is “Telefónica”'s biggest rival?
Despite not being in second place, right now I'd have to say “Groupama”. The team has been growing and they have been learning how to handle the boat, and in speed terms I think it has a lot of potential. “Puma” has suffered a lot until now, but I think that things could change for them pretty soon and they'd also be up there. I'd say that “Groupama”'s the one to watch out for.