Wednesday, 13 July 2011

VOR : Neal McDonald and Jordi Calafat - Experience and Talent for Team Telefónica

Neal McDonald and Jordi Calafat. Image copyright Maria Muina/Team Telefónica

by Helena Paz

The Briton and the Spaniard notch up five round the world's between them and both will be striving for victory on board “Telefónica” in the Volvo Ocean Race
Team Telefónica is adding two new names to its already potent crew list, still growing in the run up to the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012, the round the world regatta due to set off on the 29th October in Alicante (Spain), taking the teams some 39,000 miles around the planet. Britain's Neal McDonald and Spaniard Jordi Calafat are embarking on their fifth and second Volvo Ocean Races respectively, on board "Telefónica".

Neal McDonald, a question of “unfinished business”

Neal McDonald. Image copyright Maria Muina/Team Telefonica

Britain's Neal McDonald, will be one of the Watch Leaders on “Telefónica”. On shore his main responsibilities will be focused on the mast, the boom... working alongside those in charge of the rig. This is a task in which he has invested “a lot of energy and a lot of time working with the mast builders and designers trying to get the best mast and the most reliable one that we can fit within the rule,” explains McDonald.

“Neal brings a lot to the team”, says Iker Martínez, “above all his experience in so many regattas, many of which he has won. He also knows many different classes and boats, such as the Volvo Open 70 and the Maxi Catamarans... He has extensive experience in very fast offshore boats, and that is very important,” says the Olympic Champion and Skipper on “Telefónica”.

Neal McDonald's CV certainly impressed. His track record boasts victories in the world's main offshore regattas, such as the always challenging Sydney-Hobart, the Fastnet Race, the Newport Bermuda Race, the Middle Sea Race or the Gotland Round, to name but a few.

The America's Cup is also one of sailing's greats, and one that the Briton has not missed out on. He was part of the “Sydney” team in 1995 and then Swedish entry “Victory Challenge” on which he was Strategist and Traveller in the 2007 edition held in Valencia. He also has Olympic successes under his belt, becoming European Champion in the 49er class in 1998 and taking part in the Olympic Games in Seoul 1988 in the Flying Dutchman class.

The Volvo Ocean Race has eluded him so far. With four round the world regattas to his name, the first in 1997 and the most recent in 2008, his best finish so far was a second place with “Assa Abloy” in the 2001 edition. “There is definitely some unfinished business in this regatta. This race has been my life for a long long time now, it feels like forever, but certainly for the last decade there's been very little else in my life, other than doing around the world racing and I've never won one. I've come second in one, but I want to finish one and win one,” confesses the “Telefónica” Watch Leader.

Jordi Calafat: “I'd like to retire with a Volvo in the bag”

Jordi Calafat. Image copyright Maria Muina/Team Telefonica.

Olympic Champion at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games in the 470 Class; America's Cup winner with Swiss team “Alinghi” in 2007 as Strategist and Traveller; and a podium in his first ever Volvo Ocean Race in 2008-2009 with the Spanish boat "Telefónica blue". It's an impressive personal presentation and he has one clear objective on board “Telefónica”: “It's a regatta I really enjoyed during the last edition, but which I haven't had the fortune to win. When my career comes to an end, I'd like to have a Volvo in the bag and that is the main reason why I'm back here again."

Spanish skipper Iker Martínez highlights what an all-round sailor Calafat is: "Jordi is a great all-rounder. He was able to win Olympic Gold in a 470, a small boat and he has been involved in America's Cups for years, as well as having a Volvo under his belt, so he knows a lot about lots of different things."

The Spaniard from the island of Majorca will be Helmsman on board as well as trimming the sails, whilst on dry land he will have a vital role to play in this round the world crew, as the "Telefónica" skipper Iker Martínez points out: "Jordi runs the sail department. It's up to him to make sure we have better sails than the rest, and right now, with the boat and mast we have, that's the area that can most be worked on during the regatta, so it's a very big responsibility he has."

Victory will be a tough feat in this brand new edition of the round the world race and Calafat is well aware of that, although his confidence in Team Telefónica is total: "It's always tricky to win. This will be the third edition with these boats and it's going to be even tighter, but I have total confidence in our team, in our skipper, in our navigator and the rest of the crew on board. I hope we'll be fighting right until the end to get there."

Iker Martínez (ESP), Skipper.
Andrew Cape (AUS), Navigator.
Neal McDonald (GBR), Watch Leader.
Jordi Calafat (ESP), Trimmer/ Helmsman – Sail Coordinator.
Xabi Fernández (ESP), Trimmer.
Pepe Ribes (ESP), Boat Captain.
Diego Fructuoso (ESP), Media Crew Member.

Team Telefónica
Volvo Ocean Race