What I know about Volvo Ocean Race boats, their crews and the race is this: They push themselves to the max, harder than a human body should be pushed. It applies for both the mental and physical side.
That’s it. About all I know. I used to think racing around the world would make you grey and old – and fast. Trae (Tony Rae) is living, and about the only proof, it does not always work that way.
Next week I am off to China to learn. Joe Allen and I have a very temporary transfer from the Emirates Team New Zealand America’s Cup team to the CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand VOR team.
Different people see it various ways. Grant Dalton sees it as: “How do we support our boys with all the weapons ETNZ has in the arsenal?” Joe, with several round the world races under his belt, sees it “as punishment for something we have done within the America’s Cup team”. Joe is also questioning why we have only one-way tickets.
My take is, “I am going to learn a lot in a yachting discipline I know nothing about.” That is pretty exciting. The Volvo Ocean Race is “ oceans” apart from “our” America’s Cup team’s world. Except when it comes to the in-port races held at the VOR stopovers. Then we live in the same environment.
Over the next week, Joe and I will be going over past in-port races to get our heads around what the CAMPER boys have been dealing with for months now. When they have had a bit of time to recover from the leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya we will get a chance to talk to them and see where we can help. Or, if we can help.
Man for man they are a very smart team, with enormous experience and talent. So there are no worries there. I would be totally out of my depth in any talks of say, more than 100 miles offshore. Still racing around buoys in an in-port race is something Joe and I have trained for the last 10-15 years.
It will be a busy time with the in-port race being just a day before the start of the 5200 nautical mile leg to Auckland. As a newbie to the Volvo Ocean Race and CAMPER team, it will be a matter of staying out from under foot and helping where it’s practical.
The game plan is still a long way off. What I do want to do, is lower the anxiety level across the board. Anxiety comes in layers, pressure from the outside, pressure from the inside, expectations, frustration, etc. Our job is to get some layers off. Like peeling an onion, allowing the sailing talent to shine through. If the coaches become another layer, we will have failed.
If we fail…..we might be in China for a very long time!