For the first time here in Lisbon we've seen the six Volvo Ocean Race skippers sit down at a table together. This took place in the press conference held today after the Pro-Am race, with Spanish skipper Iker Martínez also taking questions from the press.
“Telefónica” is now in second place, just three points from the leaders and many are questioning whether that means that the pressure has eased for the Spanish team, as they no longer feel the weight of being at the top of the rankings in a regatta such as this. Others might feel that losing the lead may give rise to some frustration within the crew, but Iker Martínez replies with a relaxed smile: “I'm happy... I'm sorry, but I'm happy. I think you feel under pressure when you are in a place you don't want to be in and you feel the pressure when things aren't going well. We are still in the running to win this regatta in Galway, which is what we're all focussed on and we're all bearing in mind. So that said, the only pressure we have is the pressure we put on ourselves because we want to give our best and because we want to get some good results in this regatta, and of course, we knew that wasn't going to be easy. All of the teams are very good, with great boats, great shore crews and great crews”.
The double Olympic medallist went on to add that “it was never going to be easy and now 'Groupama' is slightly ahead and have a small lead, but there are still lots of points to play for and we are going to try to do the best we can, just like all of the others will be trying to give it their best too”.
Tomorrow it'll be time for the in-port race in Lisbon and with six new points in play at this point in the regatta and with such a tight scoreboard, 'every point counts': “We always say that the points on offer in the in-port races are very important. Of course, the offshore legs even more so, because there are more points in play, but every point counts, so we'll all be trying to get as many points as we can. As Ian [Walker] said, the in-ports are fairly complex with not many people on board, you have to think about grinding, then think about moving quickly, that you have to take the mark... Yes, the points are important and we have to go out to get them with all we've got”, replied Iker.
Speaking about the coming leg, among other things, the topic of sails came up, to which Iker Martínez replied: “I'm very happy with the sails we have”.
Iker's final comments were to weigh up the tough nature of a Volvo ocean Race and the Olympic Games. “I think that the Volvo Ocean Race is very tough, but so are the Olympic Games, although they are different. Three of the skippers here have been involved in Olympic campaigns and Volvos. They are very different and at the same time very similar. The Olympic Games involve four years of preparation or even more, sometimes even eight. When we went to Athens Xabi and I had been training for seven years and it was only for a week. When that moment comes around you have to be prepared, do well and there is no room for excuses. That's very tough, as is the Volvo, but in a different way: you do more sailing, during the night, the day and physically you're often much more tired and then you have to spend a lot of time dealing with the press and that can be very tiring... It's tough to say which is more difficult, because quite simply they are very different. The boat changes and there are less people involved but the basic concept is fairly similar”.