Displaying items by tag: Ian Walker
Former Irish Green Dragon VOR skipper Ian Walker is to take up the Director of Racing position at the Royal Yachting Association this autumn, according to PBO.
The double Olympic medallist, America’s Cup sailor and Volvo Ocean Race-winning skipper will take up the baton from John Derbyshire OBE, who is set to retire later this year after 32 years’ involvement with the organisation, including 16 years in the Director of Racing role.
Walker has enjoyed an impressive and multi-faceted career in the sport, winning two Olympic silver medals (470 in 1996; Star in 2000) and coaching Shirley Robertson, Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb to Yngling gold at Athens 2004.
Among a host of inshore and offshore racing successes, Walker has been involved with two America’s Cup campaigns (GBR Challenge in 2003; +39 in 2007) and won the 2014/15 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Prior to that he raced for Ireland as skipper of Ireland's Green Dragon project.
More from PBO here.
#vor – Birthday boys Charles Caudrelier and Ian Walker were planning to dampen each other's celebrations as Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race continued to go down to the wire on Friday.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Walker/GBR) held a tiny 7.3-nautical mile (nm) advantage at the head of the fleet at 0040 UTC with Dongfeng Race Team (Caudrelier/FRA) and MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) leading the chasing pack.
The leading trio have around 300nm still to sail to complete the 5,264nm leg from Sanya to Auckland and are expected to arrive in the port known as the 'City of Sails' on New Zealand's North Island around 2100-2400 local time on Saturday/Sunday (0900-1200 UTC).
Walker celebrated his 45th birthday on Thursday and Caudrelier his 41st a day later, but neither was in the mood to celebrate anything just yet although the Frenchman had a double reason to mark the day – Dongfeng Race Team's Volvo Ocean Race campaign was launched exactly a year ago as well.
Instead, they were desperately trying to eke out some kind of advantage before the nail-biting final day. It's a leg which has seen the fleet sail through the South China Sea from February 11 and battle all the way through the Pacific Ocean, exchanging the lead on several occasions.
According to Caudrelier, arch-rival Walker has so far received the better of the gifts from the weather gods in the last 24 hours.
"This morning I woke up a 41-year-old onboard this boat, leading Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race" he wrote in his daily blog from the boat. "I'm spoiled.
"Yesterday, it was Ian Walker's birthday; we exchanged some nice, fun emails about our receptive gifts. Tonight we've been the victims of a cruel squall, which destroyed in 30 minutes the three days of effort we've made to catch up and overtake Ian and his men.
"Without wind for 30 minutes, we went backwards against the swell while Azzam sped up to 18 knots, three miles from us.
"That was his gift. I'm waiting for mine before the end of the leg."
The pair look destined to be the closest of rivals throughout the nine-month, 38,739nm race, which will be decided over nine legs in all before the conclusion in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27.
They are currently one point apart after three stages with Leg 3 winners Dongfeng Race Team narrowly holding the upper hand. It is by no means, however, a two-horse race – or leg.
MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) could well be cast in the role of party spoilers on Saturday night. They lay just 0.7nm behind Dongfeng Race Team and were quite capable of catching one, if not both, of the leading boats and claiming their first leg win of the race.
Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) looked likely to be contesting the minor placings (see panel above) although a late, windless 'park-up' near the finish could yet lead to a surprise.
Auckland is no stranger to thrilling finishes – there are still strong memories here of the 1989-90 race's showdown between Peter Blake's Steinlager 2 and Grant Dalton's Fisher and Paykel, which the former won in the last couple of nautical miles.
New Zealand Prime Minister, John Keys, was among the many who are looking forward to the conclusion of such a memorable leg.
He opened the Race Village on Friday after the local Maori people, the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, officially 'loaned' the Auckland Viaduct Basin area to Race CEO, Knut Frostad.
"Lots of families and friends will come, lots of tourists will come. To have come all the way from China on such a long leg and to have such a small gap separating the teams shows you how well matched they are. And that makes it really exciting," said Keys.
#vor – The Volvo Ocean Race marathon front-runners sure can sprint as well. Ian Walker's offshore leaders – with Ireland's Justin Slattery onboard – proved to the rest of the seven-strong fleet that they are currently masters closer to land too, winning the Cape Town In-Port race on Saturday after yet another thrilling finish.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing already lead the hunt for the Volvo trophy after claiming victory in Leg 1 last week and now they are looking to be serious contenders for the in-shore series silverware.
The fleet was split from the start in challenging conditions in Table Bay, under the famous Table Mountain, with winds veering dramatically between 12 and 20 knots and rain clouds threatening throughout.
Ian opted for a port line early in the sprint for the first mark and it paid immediate dividends as they and Team SCA raced clear.
The team from the Emirates have already shown they can make the right decisions under the toughest of pressure.
They edged out Dongfeng Race Team by just 12 minutes in a thrilling Leg 1 climax last week, after 25 days of sailing from Alicante to Cape Town.
After some 20 minutes of racing on Saturday, they already looked like they had the points in the bag, especially after one of the rivals for the in-port series prize, Team Alvimedica, suffered a tear in their jib.
Charlie Enright's team had triumphed in the opening in-port race in Alicante back on October 4 but this victory puts Abu Dhabi now back on top of the points table with three (lowest is best).
The battle for second place soon grabbed the attention of most with Team SCA and Team Brunel in a rare old shootout after the Dutch found a burst of pressure midway round.
Brunel's skipper Bouwe Bekking told a press conference on Friday that the in-port series was not a big priority for him.
Ha! Yeah right. He and his crew were plainly giving it 110 percent as they scrambled with Team SCA for the second rung of the poldium.
But these women are very, very determined and as their skipper Sam Davies explained on Friday, strong winds certainly don't scare them after they did most of their pre-race training in similar conditions in Lanzarote.
A problem with a gennaker failing to unfurl cleanly finally scuppered their efforts to keep Bouwe and co at bay and Brunel made one final effort to catch Abu Dhabi up front.
Once again, Ian was ready for the challenge and by the finish line had a winning margin of a couple of hundred metres from Brunel with the girls in third.
Dongfeng raced home ahead of Team Vestas Wind and Team Alvimedica with MAPFRE, last coming into Cape Town in Leg 1, again bringing up the rear.
The Spanish crew, unlike most of us, will be glad to farewell Table Mountain.
For the Azzam crew, they would be glad to do the rest of their sailing in this sailing-crazy city.
"Cape Town can be like that when the wind comes round Table Mountain. We had really good crew work today, I was out of breath just watching them," said Ian.
"We just tried to do the right thing and our navigator, Simon Fisher, did a good job controlling the race. Two down, plenty more to go."
Check out the scoreboard here.
#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's challenge was nearly scuppered at the outset when their yacht suffered a broken mast just hours into the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race yesterday. Dismast photos by Paul Todd below.
The accident occurred 30 nautical miles south of Cartagena on the Spanish Mediterranean, when the yacht Azzam encountered rough weather some six hours after leaving Alicante.
"Our mast broke into three pieces when landing off a big wave in 30+ knots of wind," said skipper Ian Walker. "We were sailing under a J4 and two reefs. We do not as yet know the cause."
A first leg disaster for Ian Walker on Abu Dhabi - Photo: Paul Todd
The broken mast pieces and rig were recovered, thanks to the "courageous" intervention of crewman Wade Morgan, who entered the water to cut away the top of the mainsail.
Walker added: “The mast from the first spreader up is now secured to the port side of the boat. About three or four metres protrude from behind the boat. A spider web of lines is keeping the operation intact. The crew are deeply disappointed.”
Yacht and crew - which includes Wexford man Justin Slattery - were last night headed towards the flatter water at Cabo de Palos before returning to Alicante under motor to begin repairs and get back in the race.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are one of six teams competing in the epic round-the-world yacht race, which is set to finish in Galway next July.
Earlier this week the team finished first in the initial in-port race of the competition.
The official Volvo Ocean Race website has more on the story HERE.
The first of the in-port races ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race start tomorrow in Alicante – and top Irish sailors are among the six teams competing.
Wexford’s Justin Slattery is on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, which is competing in the race for the first time.
Skipper Ian Walker told Sail World: "Everything is ready and we can’t wait to line up against the other teams... The forecast is for strong breeze on Saturday so there will be extra pressure on the crew to get it right."
The team has another Ireland connection in its commercial director David Hassett, a veteran of the Irish yachting scene and backer of Ireland's Green Dragon team in the 2009 race.
Elsewhere, Kerryman Damian Foxall is a watch leader on Groupama, captained by debuting VOR skipper Franck Cammas - who last month received one of France's most prestigious sporting honours.
Meanwhile, the Chinese entry Team Sanya, which is part sponsored by Discover Ireland, is hoping skipper Mike Sanderson - who took Telefónica Blue to the podium at every stage in the 2009-09 race - can repeat his past successes.
In-port races take place in all 10 host ports along the 39,000-nautical-mile route, and as they account for more than 20% of the points, no team will be taking them easy.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a delegation from Galway - hosts of the final stage of the race next summer - will be in Spain for a week of events beginning tomorrow ahead of the start of the race proper on 5 November.
Sail World has more on the story HERE.
Appointed by the team's backer, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), Walker, who steered Green Dragon from Galway two years ago, will lead an 11-strong crew hoping to stake its claim in one of the world's toughest, most extreme sporting challenges.
There is still no further news about how Ireland's entry for the race is shaping up or if work to bring the Green Dragon yacht up to speed has started.
ADTA, which was behind the emirate's successful bid to become a Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 host city, believes Walker's appointment is a major coup for Abu Dhabi's inaugural title tilt.
"Ian is the lynchpin in the dream team we are determined to secure," explained Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General, ADTA. "His high profile sends a signal of the seriousness of our ambitions in a sport which will help us build international awareness of our long maritime pedigree and exceptional coastline and surrounding waters."
As design consultant on ADTA's planned, specially designed Volvo Open 70, Walker will be out to capitalise on years of experience to guide the outfit through nine-months of intense, head-to-head sailing over 39,000 nautical miles comprising four of the world's most treacherous oceans.
"The Volvo Ocean Race is mentally and physically exhausting. The whole project is quite daunting, but it is easier to comprehend having done the race before. I have huge respect for the yachts and the race and we will be as prepared as we possibly can be," said Walker, one of the world's leading helmsmen and tacticians.
"This is a fantastic opportunity to build a winning team both on and off the water. It is a huge challenge, yet we are confident we will compete for top honours. We have a unique opportunity to do something special with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
"The emirate's participation is a huge step forward for sailing. Abu Dhabi is a great venue and the conditions are perfect for a sailing destination. This will certainly encourage other sailing events and championships to come to this part of the world and is already inspiring the local population to get fully behind sailing. The entire emirate, including nationals, is eager to embrace the race and get behind its team. This is going to be a fantastic journey."
ADTA and Walker, who lives in Southampton, UK, are also currently in the final stages of appointing the team's other crew members, and are committed to including a UAE national in the sporting team and another two on the shore team.
"I think it is crucial to have the right mix of youth and experience and I also like the idea of an internationally-represented crew. Obviously, you need the right mix of skills such as helming, trimming, bowmen, sailmaking, rigging and engineering, yet it is just as important to select people who will work well as a team. That is what we are aiming for with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing," said the 40-year-old graduate of Cambridge University – one of the UK's 'Ivy League' institutions.
Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race commented, "We are very pleased to have Ian Walker back in our race and believe he will be an excellent skipper and leader for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. The host city is an excellent venue for sailing and hopefully this project will encourage and ignite passion for sailing within the region."
Walker, a father of two, was the skipper and sailing manager of the 2002 British America's Cup Team. He has accrued a wealth of sailing experience in a two-decade long career, which includes coaching the 2004 British Olympic Gold medal winning women's keelboat sailing team, winning the TP52 Global Championship, and leading the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race outfit, Green Dragon.
Plans are being progressed with Abu Dhabi stakeholders for the UAE capital's New Year 2012 hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race, when it sails into the sport's record books as the first Middle East stopover in the event's 37-year history.