Double Olympic medallist, Ian Walker is to skipper the Volvo entry The Green Team. As skipper of the Green Team entry, Walker will oversee both the design and build programme along with crew selection.
Walker will get his first taste of sailing on a Volvo Open 70 in this year’s Sydney Hobart Race.
The Green Team will be the seventh entry into the 2008 - 09 Volvo Ocean Race. Reichel Pugh are the appointed designers and the Volvo Open 70 is already in build.
Ian Walker’s achievements in the last 12 years include two Olympic medals, four World Championships and being skipper and tactician for two America’s Cup campaigns (GBR Challenge and +39).
His most recent success has been as skipper of the TP52 Patches where he worked alongside owner Eamon Conneely to secure the global championship in 2006.
'Everybody I have spoken to enthuses about these boats and this race. I have not looked forward to going sailing so much for a long time. Many people will see me as a predominately inshore sailor, but you would have said the same about Torben Grael before the last race. You have to keep learning new things and pushing yourself in order to progress. I want a new challenge and offshore sailing is arguably the biggest growth area of our sport,' explained Walker on his decision to become skipper of the Green Team.
The build of the Green Team Volvo Open 70 is underway at McConaghy Boats in China. The moulds are completed and the hull lamination has begun. Reichel Pugh and the structural engineers at Applied Structural Analysis Ltd (ASTA) are working on all the drawings to a strict timescale.
The deck plan is well advanced as is the sail plan. The rig is under design and the team have completed their first sail wind tunnel testing in Auckland New Zealand. The aim is to have the boat commissioned in June 2008.
'I am pleased with the design and build team we have put in place and the progress made to date. Reichel Pugh have had great success in ocean racing, even though this will be their first Volvo project. They were the designers behind Alfa Romeo and Wild Oats; two of the most successful and fastest canting keel offshore racing yachts on the planet.
Eamon and I worked with McConaghy Boats in China this year on the build of the TP52 Patches and were delighted with the results. We have already started wind tunnel testing sail designs with North Sails UK and the mast will be built by Southern Spars in New Zealand,' explained Walker on their choices for the design and build of the Volvo Open 70.
Glenn Bourke, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race said: 'It is fabulous to have another super-professional team skippered by an Olympic medallist entered in the race. After months of knowing about this team, it is wonderful that it is now formally announced. Ian Walker is a high profile skipper who will put together a professional campaign.
'We now have a fleet of seven boats, the same number as the previous iteration of the race, but higher still in calibre. We can never predict whether the numbers might increase, but with the possible postponement of the America’s Cup there are now a couple of possibilities.'
The team has secured initial funding for the team from a combination of private investment (led by a project board which includes John Kileen, Enda O’Coineen, Eamon Conneely and Jamie Boag as Team CEO), commercial sponsorship and government backing.
'To be able to announce Ian Walker as skipper and show we have a framework in place for a competitive entry is fantastic. We believe we have the necessary ingredients in place for a highly competitive entry at this stage,' said Jamie Boag, CEO for Galway stopover and the Green Team.
The Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 event will be the 10th running of this ocean marathon. Starting from Alicante in Spain on 4 October 2008, it will for the first time, take in ports in Asia. Spanning some 39,000 nautical miles, stopping at around 11 ports and taking nine months to complete, the Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s premier yacht race for professional racing crews.