Monday, 27 June 2011

GOR : Mallorcan Mini 650 sailor, Hugo Ramón, joins Conrad Colman for the Global Ocean Race

Mallorcan Mini 650 sailor, Hugo Ramón, joins Conrad Colman for the Global Ocean Race. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/

by Oliver Dewar

Conrad Colman entered the double-handed, round-the-world, Class40 Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) anonymously in February last year, revealing his identity two months later. Since then, he has been working ceaselessly to ensure he arrives on the GOR’s Palma, Mallorca, startline this September with a potentially victorious campaign. In the past two months, the 27 year-old Kiwi has secured the charter of Jasmine Flyer, a brand new Akilaria RC2 launched at MC-TEC in Tunisia last month, and at a press event in Palma on Thursday, Colman revealed that his co-skipper for the circumnavigation is 26 year-old Mallorcan sailor, Hugo Ramón.

“We’ve done loads of training together already and it’s clear that he’s a very good sailor,” says Colman. “I can honestly say that we’re going to make a great team,” he confirms. Like Colman, Ramón followed the classic path to pro-racing via Optimists and Lasers before, aged 18, he began specialising in solo sailing, entering and winning the 500-mile, single-handed Mare Nostrum Race in the Mediterranean. Aged 20, Ramón was the youngest sailor in the 2005 Mini Transat and, a year later, he was made Spain’s Sailor of the Year before entering the 2007 and 2009 Mini Transats, making him the only Spanish sailor with three, single-handed transatlantic races to his credit.

Ramón also won the Mini Barcelona in 2008 and 2010. Colman, too, has a Mini-racing background: he began racing in the Mini 650 class with good results, culminating with the 2009 Mini Transat where he finished mid-fleet after a series of technical problems and gear failures. Despite the crossover with Ramón in 2009, the duo were virtual strangers until last month. “I remember seeing him in the stop at Madeira,” recalls Colman, “but we just passed on the pontoons and said ‘hello’; nothing more.”

Over the past months, Ramón has been juggling J80 racing with Spain’s 1992 Olympic Finn gold medallist, José María Vander Ploeg and an education programme introducing school children to sailing while building his round-the-world campaign: “It’s been difficult, but in the end we have managed to make all pieces of the puzzle match,” he explains. “Finally, here we are, about to set sail on a great adventure with a fantastic boat and a team mate with whom I get along really well,” says Ramón. “It will be a great honor for me to represent Mallorca and Spain in such an important, international event. We still have lots of work to do, but we have been sailing a lot recently and we’re getting used to sailing together pretty fast.”

On Thursday, at a dockside ceremony, Jasmine Flyer was officially renamed Desafío Mallorca (Mallorca Challenge). For Colman the campaign’s new focus is ideal: “Desafío Mallorca is an idea that has brought together two sailors, coming from two islands that are on opposite sides of the world in order to fulfill a common project,” says Colman. “There is still a lot of work to do, but we have time, although on a very tight agenda and, of course, we will be at the start line of the GOR in Palma.”

Following the ceremony, Colman and Ramón sailed Desafío Mallorca into the Bay of Palma, trailed by media boats and sharing the bay with the 21 yachts competing on the first day of racing in the Palma Superyacht Cup. "The Mini Transat is a very hard race,” commented Ramón as the duo performed for the press. “Mainly due to the total lack of communication with other people,” he continued. Swapping a single-handed, 21ft, transatlantic Mini 650 with minimal communications equipment for a double-handed, round-the-world 40ft Class40 has clear benefits: “The Global Ocean Race is, obviously, longer and we’ll be spending lots of time in the Southern Ocean where there are always very strong winds and enormous seas, but at least you have the bonus of human contact," added the Spanish sailor.

Bartolomé Frau, President of the GOR’s Commercial Division in Palma, has been a key player in the project’s development: “They are two great sailors on a latest-generation boat and I’m sure they’ll push to the limit to honour the name of the team, Desafío Mallorca,” says Frau. “I’m certain that all the effort putting the project together has been of good use, because I could not consider that such an important race would start from our city without a Majorcan sailor in the fleet.” Meanwhile, Colman and Ramón will continue training out of Palma while the duo’s sponsorship-hunting continues. “We’ll carry on searching for further funding, but our next initiative is the GOR’s qualifying passage,” explains Colman. Desafío Mallorca will complete the 2,000-mile qualifier with a non-stop loop around Madeira. “The trip will be invaluable further training,” he says. “Madeira is also an appropriate turning mark for two former Mini sailors!”

Josh Hall, Race Director of the GOR, is delighted to see Ramón in the race fleet: “Hugo was instrumental in the Global Ocean Race coming to Mallorca,” says Hall “We are extremely happy to have introduced him to Conrad and some core funding so that he can fulfil his dream of racing around the world representing Mallorca and Spain,” continues the Race Director. “This is a very strong entry with two highly-experienced sailors on a fabulous new Class40. In addition to their ongoing training programme, they are busy seeking the additional sponsorships that can really make their project fly at full throttle. With the talent and energy revolving around them, we are sure they will succeed.”

Global Ocean Race