ABU DHABI // As Ian Walker and his crew of elite sailors plot what is hoped will be a safe and successful circumnavigation of the world from the Spanish port of Alicante in October, Jamie Boag will be the man heading the offshore operation of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team.
Boag, from Northern Ireland and based on the Isle of Wight off England's south coast, is the business partner of Walker, the skipper, and will be striving to implement all the carefully laid out plans the team have made in mounting their challenge to rule the waves.
The husband of Britain's Olympic gold medal-winning yachtswoman Shirley Robertson, Boag knows the drill of the Volvo Ocean Race, having been the chief executive for the Chinese-backed Green Dragon entry which Walker, twice an Olympic silver medal-winning yachtsman for Britain, skippered in the last race three years ago.
"This is a similar job to the one I had then, but this time I am called team director," said Boag, who is working in tandem with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) who have funded a debut entry in the 37,000 nautical miles race, which has a stopover in Abu Dhabi at the end of the year.
"At this stage of the project my duties are planning and chairing meetings and trying to cover for Ian to give him a bit of space and the chance to get out to sea as much as possible. But when we start building up properly for the race, things will go into overdrive."
That build-up effectively starts this weekend as the training boat that Walker and his 10 crew mates have been using in Gulf waters for the last few months is rendered obsolete under the rules of the race.
The crew will transfer to their newly-built racing vessel in May and the on-board and shore crews will work to ensure the bid to be first into the Irish port of Galway Bay in the summer of 2012 is as strong as possible.
"We can't wait to get our hands on the new boat but it's a slightly unusual business we are in because the first thing we will do when we take charge of it is try to tear it apart," Boag said.
"I suppose it is a bit strange to onlookers. We have built this wonderful state of the art craft at enormous expense and our first task is to see if we can break it. It is like Formula One in a way. You look for any faults in the make up and try to make them better before you get involved in the serious action."
The comparison with motor racing does not stop there. Boag regards himself as similar to the head of the pit crew at grand prix races. He and his teammates travel the world in the same fashion as F1 teams.
"Twenty eight people need to be moved around as fast as possible between the stopover ports," he said. "We also have to transport all the containers that we have to carry our equipment to be as efficient as possible at the start and finish of the various legs. There will be opportunities to make modifications at every stopover."
Boag has been racing against time with Walker to be in top shape for the start of the race and they are just about up with the pace. "My wife tells me it takes five years to conduct a four-year Olympic campaign," said Boag. "It is similar with this. There is never enough time but we are right on schedule with most things."