Volvo Ocean Race entry, Team Sanya's newest member can look forward to quite a homecoming. Irishman Frankie Leonard has been named as Sanya's Media Crew Member and whatever the result he can expect to be the toast of his home town of Galway when the race finishes there next July.
'It is a huge deal that this race is coming back to Ireland and that the final stopover will be in Galway, my home town,' said Leonard. 'I am extremely proud to be an Irishman on board Team Sanya and it will be a proud day when I sail back into Galway bay having completed the 39,000 nautical miles.'
The fact that Discover Ireland is one of Team Sanya’s supporting sponsors makes Frankie a perfect fit. His job will be to bring the story of Sanya's challenge to life while engaging with a huge worldwide audience through with his multimedia reports from the boat.
'I will be in charge of transmitting all of the onboard action and telling the world about life on board,' he said. 'I have been preparing for my role for some time. The position requires communications and technical skills, editing and filming, photography and journalism, all carried out in the extreme onboard conditions. My background as a sailor and professional cameraman will help me deliver this compelling story.'
'The role of the MCM is a significant one, especially for Team Sanya,' added skipper Mike Sanderson. 'Our aim is to attract the largest following of any team and Frankie will play a key role in achieving that objective. We have a potential 1.2 billion Chinese fans out there, as well as our Irish and international fans, and so we need to find a unique way to engage with them, inspire them to follow us and get them into the sport of sailing. ??
'Frankie’s personality as well as his technical abilities in film and photography means he is a perfect candidate for the job. He is supremely fit too from his rugby background and knows what it takes to work as part of a professional sports team and we are really looking forward to having him as part of our team.'
Leonard has started documenting the Team Sanya story this week in Hamble, England as the boat goes through its makeover. His first significant sailing experience with the team will be the Fastnet race, which starts on 14 August.
'Like all the MCMs in this year's Volvo Ocean Race, Frankie has a big year ahead of him,' concluded Rick Deppe, Media Crew Member Manager for the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. 'The hard work and enthusiasm he brings to the job will be a great asset to his team, the race and his own personal development. This time next year Frankie will have documented one team’s entire circumnavigation and will hopefully be coming home a hero to his home town in Galway.'