Friday, 15 April 2011

BWR: Xabi Fernandez: A Retrospective on the Barcelona World Race, and Future Plans

Anne Hinton caught up with Xabi Fernandez (MAPFRE) after he and Iker Martinez had finished second 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 (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 dagger board 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)?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Barcelona World Race