Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 - Not many people can recall being fired from their job and smiling afterwards. But for Team Sanya’s Andres Soriano, being fired from the shore team meant he could be hired just moments later as a member of the sailing team.
With just 10 days until the first In-Port Race starts in Alicante, the 25-year-old Spanish-American said he’s not concerned about being underprepared as the team’s new Media Crew Member.
'I’ve wanted to do this race my whole life, every year that I get older I just think that I have to do this race, so I feel like I’ve been mentally preparing for it in the hope that one day it would happen,’’ he said.
'Sure more time would have been great, but this is my chance, I’m ready to take on the challenge and just go for it.’’
Soriano joined Sanya as a member of the shore team in late August while the first Chinese entry in the Volvo Ocean Race was based in the UK. Two weeks later he passed his trial and was hired and living in Spain.
In September when former MCM Frankie Leonard stood down, Soriano approached skipper Mike Sanderson, figuring he had nothing to lose by putting his hand up for the job.
'I just thought that if you don’t ask you don’t get,’’ he said. 'I just said to Moose ‘I’m sure there are some big names out there, but I’m interested in the job. I don’t get seasick, I love the ocean, I’ve wanted to do the race since I was a kid.'
This Monday, he was approached by shore boss David Duff and Sanderson. 'Duffy said ‘you’re fired’ and Moose said ‘you’re hired’ and before I knew it I was being asked what my size was for the team uniform,’’ he said.
Sanderson said since day one Soriano had fitted in perfectly with his 11-man team.
'He is an incredibly hard worker and has turned his hand to anything we have thrown at him, which has won him enormous respect from the guys,’’ he said.
'He has the right balance of offshore sailing experience coupled with media skills and creativity, so I have high hopes for his ability to tell the team story to the outside world in a dynamic and unique manner.'
The MCM gig is the dream first-job for Soriano who graduated from New York University with a communications degree in January this year.
While his college mates are bound for nine-to-five office jobs Soriano will spend the next nine months documenting Team Sanya’s 39,000 nautical mile journey through five of the world’s most hostile oceans and five continents.
'I know we’re going to have some pretty challenging conditions, but I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and to be honest my greatest fear is not being out in the ocean, it’s more making sure I can deliver what’s needed, but I know I’m capable of delivering that.’’
A bit of healthy rivalry will also keep Soriano motivated, as his former college room mate Nick Dana is a MCM on board Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
Soriano said the college rivalry was about to go global after the pair spent their college years competing in lacrosse, ice hockey and sailing.
'We’re very competitive people and with Nick and I doing the same job I think we’re going to be pushing each other. It’s an old roommate rivalry reinstated,’’ he said.
'Nick was an attack man on the lacrosse team and I was a defender so we always lined up against each other; we always went against each other, we always pushed each other and always made each other better. I think it’ll be the same here.
'But at the end of each leg we’ll have a beer and talk about what just happened, and you know, he was the first one to come to me yesterday and tell me if I need anything he’s there for me.’’
Soriano helped capture the Giraglia Rolex Race for the official 2010 Rolex video as a remote camera operator and has extensive offshore sailing experience including the Rolex China Sea Race, Hong Kong to Vietnam Race and the Rolex Fastnet Race.
Frankie Leonard joined Team Sanya as the original MCM, but due to seasickness the Irishman stood down last month. Sander van der Borch joined the team briefly to document the qualifying race. Volvo Ocean Race website