Iker Martínez will again be leading the Spanish challenge for the Volvo Ocean Race in 2014-15, his team confirmed today.
The 37-year-old Basque sailor, who has just been crowned European champion in the Nacra 17 multihull class, is looking forward to his second campaign as a skipper following the Team Telefónica entry in 2011-12.
On that occasion, Martínez had the luxury of many months of preparation that helped propel the Spanish boat to a big early lead in the last Volvo Ocean Race before being overhauled by eventual winners, Groupama of France. Telefónica eventually finished fourth.
This time, he does not have so much time to oversee the Spanish team’s challenge as it was only announced last month.
Martínez, Olympic 49er champion in 2004, is still relishing the opportunity, however.
'I am very happy to be skipper of this project again, flying the flag of our country,' he said. 'It is a big challenge – not only because the Volvo Ocean Race is such a long and tough race for all the crew members – but also because we know we do not have much time left before the first leg start on October 11.
'We know that we’re really pressed for time and the other teams are far ahead in terms of preparation but we are working hard to make up the difference.'
He will once again have his best friend and trusted long-time competition partner Xabi Fernández alongside him as watch captain. The pair won Olympic gold together in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and then silver in 2008 in the 49er class.
Additionally, Ñeti Cuervas-Mons, who was also a member of the Telefónica crew, and fellow Spaniard Rafa Trujillo have been named in the Spanish boat’s team for 2014-15 plus French navigator Nico Lunven.
The team has also announced today that they have recruited the biggest name in French sailing, Michel Desjoyeaux, to help guide the crew’s preparations.
Michel Desjoyeaux, skipper du Figaro TBS - Solitaire du Figaro-Eric Bompard cachemire 2013 - © Alexis Courcoux
Martínez said: 'It’s lucky for us to have Michel available to help us prepare for this campaign. We called him for different reasons, but above all for his great knowledge. Michel is fundamental in helping us prepare this project in the best possible way in such a short amount of time.
'Some of our crew, had previous commitments before the start, in my case, the Nacra and the world championships in Santander so we needed his support.'
Desjoyeaux is one of the leading figures of global single-handed ocean racing having twice won the Vendée Globe plus the Solitaire du Figaro on three occasions and the Route du Rhum. He also competed in the Volvo Ocean Race/Whitbread Round the World Race in 1985-86 (Cote d’Or), 1989-90 (Charles Jourdan) and 1993-94 (La Poste).
On Saturday, the Spanish team whose title sponsor has yet to be announced, compete in the Round the Canary Islands race in their Volvo Ocean 65s against Volvo Ocean Race competitors Team Brunel and the all-female crew of Team SCA.
The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 will begin on October 4 with the Alicante in-port race followed by the start of the first leg on October 11 to Cape Town.