Adam Minoprio onboard Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China.
Adam Minoprio is widely regarded as a rising star in New Zealand yachting. Three years ago at just 24 he became world match racing champion - the youngest ever. He has an impressive string of titles behind him including the Monsoon Cup and New Zealand Sailor of the Year. Adam was only the fourth Kiwi to win the world match racing champs following Chris Dickson, Russell Coutts and Dean Barker to wins on the prestigious circuit.
In 2010 however, he put his highly successful match racing career on hold and decided to pursue success in a vastly different form of yacht racing – the Volvo Ocean Race. He went from being at the very top of his field in the match racing discipline to a relative novice as the youngest and most inexperienced offshore sailor aboard Camper.
Three legs down and with a third of the race done and dusted we caught up with Adam in Sanya to see how he was finding the transition and if being an ocean racer was what he expected…
'In a way it has been what I thought it would be, but then in other ways it has been like nothing I expected. Parts of the change have been incredibly hard work but a lot of the fundamentals are the same so that makes thing easier.
'I’m actually enjoying the race more as it goes on. The first leg was pretty difficult for me as we were basically sailing by ourselves without another boat in sight and in a bad position for 21 days, so as a first taste that was a bit frustrating.
'But since then we’ve been right in amongst it and there’s been some pretty intense racing which has been fantastic.
'Physically it has been a big step-up. I think stacking the boat and moving four tonnes of gear every tack would have to be one of the hardest jobs in sailing.
'Not many people probably appreciate that we’re effectively match racing these boats as hard when we’re in the middle of ocean thousands of miles from anywhere as when we’re in the in-port race. The intensity just doesn’t change so over 20 odd days at sea it can be pretty draining.
'It’s all worth it though when you can crack sheets and allow the boat to get up and go. In the right conditions these things are pretty amazing to sail.
Adam Minoprio gives the race committee a verbal after losing to Ben Ainslie during the repechage of the Argo Group Gold Cup 2010. Hamilton, Bermuda. 8 October 2010. Photo: Subzero Images/WMRT
'For the in-port racing we’re incredibly under-crewed. We race with 10 crew while on most seventy footers you’d normally have a racing crew of 18 to 20. So you’re really working during a race and with the courses they set it’s generally all won in the start so that loads on the pressure.
'Being so short-handed I haven’t really had the opportunity to get down the back yet with Stu and Nico so it’s interesting to get a different perspective while racing.
'The next leg into Auckland is going to be massive. Sailing into Auckland Harbour which is where growing up I did all my sailing is going to be special.
'I just can’t wait for that trip down the coast of New Zealand with excitement building and then crossing the finish line will be something else. I think it’s going to be the highlight of the race for everyone aboard.
'There’s going to be plenty of pressure on us but we know how important it is to everyone at home and we’ll be giving it absolutely everything that we can to deliver a top result.
'Then after Auckland it is Cape Horn and the Southern Ocean which for me is what this race is all about. Once I’ve got a Cape Horn rounding behind me I’ll begin to feel like a proper offshore sailor!'
Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing winner of the Danish Open 2010, Bornholm, Denmark. World Match Racing Tour. photo: Loris von Siebenthal - WMRT