Sunday, 17 April 2011

BWR: Xabi Fernandez and Iker Martinez Provide a Retrospective on the Barcelona World Race, and Look Forward to Future Plans

Anne Hinton caught up with Xabi Fernandez and Iker Martinez (MAPFRE) after they had finished second, without stopping, in the 2010-11 Barcelona World Race, and asked about the Race just gone and future plans for the pair in regard to the Volvo Ocean Race and the Olympics... [Iker Martinez's responses have been translated from Spanish into English by Anne Hinton with corrections by Helena Paz.]

Iker Martinez (left) and Xabi Fernandez: second in the 2010 Barcelona World Race, and first boat home without a technical stop. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Mapfre/Barcelona World Race.

It appears that Iker and Xabi are looking offshore, towards the Volvo Ocean Race, for their sailing for the present, but may return to inshore racing if a multihull is brought back into the Olympics, and are looking to enjoy other aspects of multihull sailing in the future

AH: How do you enjoy racing around the world on a 60 foot "skiff", doing running repairs to fix the boat, and not physically seeing your opposition, compared with day racing a 49er, having someone else on hand if need be to fix the boat, and having all your other competitors in sight all the time?

XF: Racing around the world is almost a different sport comparing with the Olympic sailing. It is just different and you must like if you want to enjoy it, if not it could be the worst place in the world to be. We knew the offshore sailing long time ago and we know very well we like it a lot so you just enjoy it every day.

Repairing things on board is one more thing of the offshore sailing, you have to be prepared and the satisfaction after repairing anything at sea is very big. Of course normally you don't do a good job but you make all you best and it makes you feel good.

Even if you don´t see the opponents physically, today with the technologies we have on board we know every 4 or 5 hours where the others are, so we make a thousands of 4 hours races to keep the tension of racing!

Iker Martinez: proud of the daggerboard repair that he and Xabi Fernandez effected in the south on board MAPFRE. Image copyright Mapfre.

AH: Round the world racing has a large element of logistics and boat preparation, for which Olympic sailing does not require anything like so much time. What do you particularly like about each of Olympic sailing, and round the world racing, please?

XF: The preparation of any race is the key to winning any race. I personally don´t think that is more preparation for a big boat than for an Olympic boat. Of course they are different and the boat is bigger so you need a lot of people but if you want to prepare properly your boat and yourself for going to the Olympics you have a lot of work to do.

A bigger team work is required for a round the world race and this is a part I liked a lot. More meticulous job and self preparation is required for preparing a Olympic race and is different but I like it a lot too.

Anyway, you have a lot of work if you want to do any of these races properly.

Thumbs up, but a bit wet for Xabi and Iker on MAPFRE during the Barcelona World Race. Image copyright MAPFRE.

Iker (left) and Xabi enjoy a meal on board MAPFRE. Image copyright Mapfre.

AH: Will you continue campaigning a 49er for the 2012 Olympics as well as doing the Volvo Ocean Race (as Iker did the whole race last time, but was just inshore skipper in the last VOR, but is now skipper for offshore too - i.e. for the whole race - so has a large management role in the Volvo Ocean Race now)?

Iker Martinez, skipper, Telefonica Blue, Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race 2010. Image copyright Patrick Eden/

XF: Well first, Iker did the whole Volvo Ocean Race last time, inshore and offshore, and he was driving in the inshore races too. After the BWR we feel so much prepared for any offshore race and it is very nice to think about the next Volvo. Doing both things together is difficult because you need to expend the 365 days of the year for sailing and this is more and more difficult as the years go on.

MAPFRE. Image copyright Mapfre.

Xabi Fernandez gives the thumbs up as he and Iker Martinez are given a men's sports team of the year award in Spain during the Barcelona World Race. Image copyright Iker Martinez/MAPFRE.

AH: How have you enjoyed looking at the design features of boats for round the world racing, as this is something that is not needed for Olympic one design sailing?

XF: This is one of the more exciting part of preparing a round the world race but I don´t agree that is not needed for Olympic sailing. All the knowledge you have is better and we have been working a lot in the past too. It is true that they are not too much things you can apply in a 49er but everything helps a lot. Anyway working close to a designer is good fun and you realize how much is there you can learn...

MAPFRE. Image copyright Maria Muina/Barcelona World Race.

AH: How easy do you find it to change from the intensity of day sailing a 49er, to having to pace things more slowly to sail a much larger boat without stopping over a long period of time?

XF: As I answered before, we were involved in the Volvo Ocean Race from 2004 after the Olympics in Athens. Of course it was a big jump and things were difficult to understand and change but since then we have sailed a lot offshore too and now we feel comfortable offshore and inshore. You must think basically that they are very different and you must change your chip before jumping to the boat.

MAPFRE. Image copyright Mapfre.

AH: Do you have any plans to do multihull sailing (D35/X40, America's Cup or MOD70), please?

XF: All these boats you have mentioned I think they are in all minds of all sailors. For us they are very attractive and we really would like to sail in all of them but we have to go step by step; multihull have to wait a little bit. We wanted to sail multihull for Olympics if ISAF put it back but right now there is not a multihull discipline. I am sure we will have opportunities in the future and even if we have not plans right now I hope we can join a team soon.

IM: We are used to sailing on a monohull but one that is similar to multihulls. We would like them to make a multihull into an Olympic class. The rest will come. It is probable that to sail in the future in a multihull could mean the MOD70, the X 40… The Cup is already another little another story; it is more complicated. But I believe that MOD70, X40 or if the multihull again returns to the Olympics, are quite realistic options so I hope that before long we can begin to sail in those types of boats.

Homecoming into Barcelona for Iker and Xabi on board MAPFRE. Image copyright Maria Muina/Barcelona World Race.

AH: What have you most enjoyed about taking part in the Barcelona World Race?

XF: The BWR has been a great experience for us and I have enjoyed a lot sailing around the world only with Iker and probably the best thing has been being learning so much every day. We have much more knowledge about all the areas of sailing and I am sure will be very useful in our careers, offshore and inshore.

IM: The best has been to sail just the two of us together, without any doubt; it has been most gratifying. The most complicated thing is to learn how to do everything; that does mean, on the other hand, that you have to be more of an all-rounder. Here, we have had no alternative but to learn about all the areas once and for all. The result has been really excellent and I believe that will be really good for our professional future; because we have learnt this and we now have a base on all the areas, and that is something very important.

Homecoming into Barcelona for Iker and Xabi on board MAPFRE. Image copyright Maria Muina/Barcelona World Race.

Iker and Xabi homecoming on board MAPFRE. Image copyright Maria Muina/Barcelona World Race.

AH: How did Xabi come to lose a massive 17kg, please, and Iker 10kg, on the Barcelona World Race?

IM: To begin, half of that loss of weight is a little fictitious because the initial weight was a very high weight since we wanted to leave a little fat deliberately for various motives, like the kilogrammes that were be going to be lost, the cold that we would pass through in the Southern Ocean... This is a boat race in which many cold days have been passed and having more corporal grease helps you to have less cold. Less cold signifies at the same time less expenditure of energy and greater facility for everything.

The half of that weight lost, therefore, was a little licorice and when you are above your weight you lose it very easily. The remainder - that already makes the numbers a little more manageable – it is already a weight that you can lose in three months because you have a lot of activity and because we had some problems with the food. But it is not so insane as people think. To sum up, we left quite podgy and that if we reduce those numbers by half they do not frighten us so much...

Iker and Xabi before leaving on the Barcelona World Race 2010. Image copyright Miquel Casanelles/MAPFRE/Barcelona World Race.

AH: Have Iker and Xabi always lost a lot of weight (anything like as much as during the Barcelona World Race) during offshore racing (including the Volvo Ocean Race) in the past, please?

IM: Me, in truth, not. And Xabi I believe neither. The boat races that we had done were normally of 20 days or so; the stage of China to Brazil was of a bit more than 40 days, that is to say much less than now, for which you have less capacity to put on or to lose weight. Besides, in my case, I am used to losing very little weight. In the Volvo I believe that I was the one who always had least weight loss in the entire team. Xabi has more facility to rise and to fall in weight.

Iker and Xabi, looking a lot thinner, on their arrival back in Barcelona in second place after more than three calendar months at sea. Image copyright Maria Muina/Barcelona World Race.

AH: How do you intend to go about puttting the weight back on, please?

IM: We intend to have quite a stable diet. We have enough experience in diets and we know what have we to eat: certain proteins, carbohydrates... meat, fish, greens, enough fruit, contribution of vitamins... A little of what we always eat. I believe that as sportsmen we take care of ourselves enough and already have some know-how on the matter. We will always try to eat well, which is simply to continue with what we have carried on doing for years. At the beginning you eat more abundantly, influenced also by the anxieties that you have, and you must control them, and already we have begun to do exercise, above all running and bicycle. Here we are, recovering little by little...

Homecoming into Barcelona for Iker and Xabi on board MAPFRE. Image copyright Maria Muina/Barcelona World Race.

AH: Thank you very much for your time, congratulations on finishing second without stopping in the Barcelona World Race 2010-11, and all the best for your future sailing.

The MAPFRE team. Image copyright Maria Muina/Barcelona World Race.

Note from SailRaceWin: Data from Neutrogena and FNOB/Barcelona World Race (in regard to Mapfre and Estrella Damm), record that Xabi Fernandez lost 17kg during the race, Ryan Breymaier 14kg, Iker Martinez 10kg, and Pepe Ribes had lost 7kg, while Boris Herrmann did not lose any weight. Alex Pella (Estrella Damm) put on some weight during the race, by reportedly finishing up the chocolate mousses on board before arrival in Barcelona!

Barcelona World Race