#vor – The clear win by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 was achieved by solid consistency in the classic "good series" style favoured by regular champion sailors. Except that, instead of being a pleasant five day championship regatta staged at some agreeable summer venue, the Volvo Ocean Race was made up of nine legs which took the fleet right round the world, getting them south of both Good Hope and Cape Horn, yet also back north again across the equator.
In such a challenge, a mixture of experience and exceptional sailing talent is at a premium, and Ireland's Justin Slattery (40) has both in abundance. He was a key crew member aboard Abu Dhabi, which was well placed top of the leaderboard with a scoreline of 1,3,2,2,1 after the first five legs. But with four legs still to be raced, experience became the key ingredient, as the leading boat has to defend her position against a chasing fleet in which, with three close contenders, the likelihood of one of them taking an uncoverable but successful tactical gamble becomes ever more acute.
That, and the cruel possibility of damage or even a dismasting, are among the many threats which a crew defending a good first place has to face, and skill and experience become paramount. But the crew of Abu Dhabi kept their cool, they kept their boat intact, and they sailed on to win overall by 24 points to the 29 of Team Brunel and the 33 of Dongfeng Race Team, making Justin Slattery the winner of an Afloat.ie International Award for June 2015.