MAPFRE wins leg 8 Newport, Rhode Island

MAPFRE return to the Volvo Ocean Race and their goal could not be clearer – to win the Volvo Ocean Race trophy for the first time in Spain’s history.

Skipper Xabi Fernández has built a mixed and multinational squad brimming with honours – from Olympic gold medallists and America’s Cup winners, to some of the most highly regarded offshore sailors on the planet.

After finishing in fourth place last time out, it’s fair to say that MAPFRE look stronger than ever before in 2017-18.

Skipper: Xabi Fernández

Date of Birth: 19 October 1976

In: Ibarra, Spain

Nationality: Spanish

Legs sailed in this edition: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7
In-Port Races: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí

Something about him that you don’t know: He took his first world title in 1992 in the Youth Vaurien Class.

Who he is: A double Olympic medallist, Xabi won gold in Athens in 2004 and followed that up with a silver in Beijing four years later. One of the most highly regarded Volvo Ocean Race sailors of the modern era, he has participated in four editions and has been part of every Spanish campaign since 2005-06. A strong leader, Xabi takes over the campaign as full-time skipper for the first time after deputising for Iker Martínez on some legs in 20-14-15.

Previous Volvo Oceans Races:
2014-15 MAPFRE
2011-12 Telefónica
2008-09 Telefónica Blue
2005-06 movistar

Trimmer / Bowman: Willy Altadill

In: Barcelona, Spain

Nationality: Spanish

Legs sailed in this edition: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7
In-Port Races: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí

Something about him that you don’t know: Willy had a typically extreme introduction to Volvo Ocean Race life – breaking his hand during his first leg onboard in 2014-15.

Who he is: Willy Altadill returns for a second race as an Under-30 having made his debut when called up by MAPFRE during the 2014-15 edition. His Volvo Ocean Race experience actually started at a much younger age, thanks to his dad Guillermo’s five races as a competitor from 1989 to 2009. Willy grew up around the race and really started showing his own credentials as a sailor in the Fastnet Race in 2011.

Previous Volvo Ocean Race:
2014-15 MAPFRE

Watch Captain: Pablo Arrarte

Date of birth: 11 November 1980

In: Santander, Spain

Nationality: Spanish

Legs sailed in this edition: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7
In-Port Races: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí

Something about him that you don’t know: Nicknamed ‘Patan’, Pablo competed in the 2004 Olympic Games with Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermúdez de Castro, who races with team AkzoNobel in 2017-18.

Who he is: Pablo made his name on the Olympic circuit, and already had one games under his belt by the time he met Bouwe Bekking, who gave him his Volvo Ocean Race debut onboard Telefónica Blue in 2008-09. Thus began an obsession for ‘Patan’ – who returned for the next two races, with Team Telefónica in 2011-12, and reunited with Bekking on Dutch entry Team Brunel in 2014-15. Now, he’s back on a Spanish team, number two to skipper Xabi, and ready to race for a fourth time.

Previous Volvo Ocean Races:
2014-15 Team Brunel
2011-12 Team Telefónica
2008-09 Telefónica Blue

Trimmer/Helmsman: Blair Tuke

Date of birth: 27 July 1989

In: Kerikeri, New Zealand

Nationality: New Zealand

Legs sailed in this edition: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7
In-Port Races: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí

Something you don’t know about him: Blair started an electrical apprenticeship after school before becoming a professional sailor.

Who he is: It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Tuke, who scooped gold alongside long-time sailing partner Peter Burling in the 49er class at the Rio Olympics (his second medal having won silver at London 2012), then followed up with an historic America’s Cup win as a key part of Emirates Team New Zealand just 10 months later. Not bad for a 28-year-old – and now, the six-time world champion has turned his attention to an all-new challenge: the Volvo Ocean Race with MAPFRE. Can he become the first sailor in history to win sailing’s Triple Crown of the Olympics, the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race?

Navigator: Joan Vila

Date of birth: 12 November 1961

In: Barcelona, Spain

Nationality: Spanish

Legs sailed in this edition: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7
In-Port Races: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí

Something about him you don’t know: Joan is a coffee lover – but he doesn’t drink it onboard, he eats the granules straight from the packet.

Who he is: Considered one of the world’s best navigators, Vila returns to the Volvo Ocean Race 15 years after his most recent appearance in 2001-02, when he won with illbruck. He is appeared in the America’s Cup more times than any other Spanish sailor (8) – and has won the trophy three times. Much has changed since he made his first Volvo Ocean Race appearance in 1989-90, but one thing remains: an obsession to win the Volvo Ocean Race trophy.

Previous Volvo Ocean Race:
2001-02 Illbruck Challenge
1997-98 Chessie Racing
1993-94 Galicia-Pescanova
1989-90 Fortuna Extra Lights

Crew member: Támara Echegoyen

In: Ourense, Spain

Nationality: Spanish

Legs sailed in this edition: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7
In-Port Races: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí

Something you don’t know about her: Támara has a Degree of Science in Physical Activity and Sport Science.

Who she is: Echegoyen moves into offshore sailing after scooping Olympic gold at London 2012 as part of the Elliott match race team. The Spanish sailor and five-time world champion has taken the step up to the Volvo Ocean 65 in her stride, and will be keen to grab a second memorable victory for Spain by helping MAPFRE to the trophy in 2017-18.

Bowman and Boat Captain: Antonio ‘Ñeti’ Cuervas-Mons

Date of Birth: 22 December 1981

In: Santander, Spain

Nationality: Spanish

Legs sailed in this edition: 1, 2, 7
In-Port Races: Alicante, Lisbon, Auckland, Itajaí

Something about him that you don’t know: Ñeti was inspired to get into the sport by his grandfather, a merchant sailor who sadly passed away whilst Ñeti was racing to Cape Town during the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. After he learned of his death, he dedicated Telefónica’s leg victory to his late grandfather.

Who he is: Ñeti is one of Spain’s most well-known Volvo Ocean Race faces (he even has his own fan club), and lines up for a fourth edition in 2017-18. The bowman has competed in every race since 2008-09, when he made his debut onboard Telefónica Black, but hasn’t limited himself to Volvo Ocean Race sailing – he’s raced in a range of classes from dinghies to Olympic sailing and TP52s, and even smashed the legendary Sydney-Hobart record on supermaxi Perpetual Loyal in 2016.

Previous Volvo Ocean Races:
2014-15 MAPFRE
2011-12 Telefónica
2008-09 Telefónica Black

 

Watch captain: Rob Greenhalgh

Date of Birth: 17 August 1977

In: Brighton, United Kingdom

Nationality: British

Legs sailed in this edition: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7
In-Port Races: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí

Something about him that you don’t know: He loves road biking and fishing.

Who he is: Greenhalgh was already one of the world’s most accomplished skiff dinghy sailors when he got a call from Mike Sanderson in February 2004 asking him to join the ABN AMRO ONE campaign. With no Volvo Ocean Race experience, the transition to ocean racing wasn’t an easy one, but with raw speed and personal stamina, Rob added a new dimension to the Dutch campaign. Since that debut edition, Rob has raced three more Volvo Ocean Races – onboard PUMA, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and, most recently, MAPFRE in 2014-15.

Previous Volvo Ocean Races:
2014-15 MAPFRE
2011-12 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
2008-09 Puma
2005-06 ABN AMRO ONE

Crew member (Under 30): Louis Sinclair

Date of birth: 30 October 1991

In: New Zealand

Nationality: New Zealand

Legs sailed in this edition: 3, 4, 6
In-Port Races: Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou

Something about him that you don’t know: He likes spear fishing, kite surfing… and honey cutting. Yes, that’s the action of harvesting honey from wild bee hives.

Who he is: New Zealand born, but raised in the Caribbean, Louis returns for a second edition of the Volvo Ocean Race after a memorable introduction as part of the successful Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing campaign in 2014-15, where he sailed two legs. He has since competed in the America’s Cup as part of Oracle Team USA, where he gained a reputation as the strongest sailor in the event – and has a range of big boat experience having raced onboard Leopard 3 and 100ft Super Maxi Comanche in the past.

Previous Volvo Ocean Race:
2014-15 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Crew member: Sophie Ciszek

Date of birth: 28 June 1985

In: Mornington, Australia

Nationality: Australian

Legs sailed in this edition: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7
In-Port Races: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou

Something about her that you don’t know: Sophie is a keen surfer and you’ll usually find her in a wetsuit in stopover locations around the world. Sophie has worked on several of the most well known boats in the world, including the Maxis Wildthing, Brindabella and Shockwave.

Who she is: Sophie made a big impression in her debut Volvo Ocean Race campaign onboard Team SCA in 2014-15 where she was one of the all-female team’s star performers, and went on to win the Hans Horrevoets Rookie Award at the end of the race. She has previously raced on some of the world’s most renowned sailing yachts including Wildthing, Brindabella and Shockwave, competed in four Sydney-Hobart Races – and now returns for a second consecutive Volvo Ocean Race, this time as part of a mixed crew.

Previous Volvo Ocean Races:
2014-15 Team SCA