x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Meet the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew

Osman Samiuddin introduces us to the eight key members who have been picked for the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race.

Back row, left to right: Tom Bushell, Neal McDonald, Adil Khalid, Luke Parkinson and Ian Walker. Front row, left to right: Justin Slattery, Simon Fisher, Phil Harmer and Andrew McLean. Christopher Pike / The National
Back row, left to right: Tom Bushell, Neal McDonald, Adil Khalid, Luke Parkinson and Ian Walker. Front row, left to right: Justin Slattery, Simon Fisher, Phil Harmer and Andrew McLean. Christopher Pike / The National

Ian Walker (UK), Skipper

This will be the third Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) for Walker, a two-time Olympic silver medalist and the second time with the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) team. This time the odds are in his favour as all boats are the same design. “It’s a much more level playing field and much more like the Olympic sailing I am used to. It’s a real test of the team itself.”

Simon Fisher (UK), Helmsman/Trimmer & Navigator

His second stint with ADOR, except this time, with lesser crew, he will also be a navigator. Widely regarded as one of the best sailors of his generation, this will be Fisher’s fourth VOR. He has been a navigator before, with Telefonica in the 2008-08 race. Answers to the nickname SiFi.

Justin Slattery (Ire), Bowman

Slattery returns for another stint with ADOR, a former VOR winner and looking ahead to his fourth round the world sail. Walker has sailed with him before and did not hold back with his praise. “He is the rock on the boat, hard as nails and has an incredible work ethic.”

Phil Harmer (Aus), Helmsman/Trimmer

It is best not to judge Harmer on the basis of his nickname ‘Wendy‘ (an oblique tribute to an Australian TV presenter). As helmsman on the Groupama in the 2011-12 edition, Harmer was a winner and so brings considerable not only considerable experience, but the knowledge of how to go about winning.

Andrew McLean (NZ), Pitman

Known widely as the ‘Animal’ McLean is another well-traveled addition to the ADOR crew. He was with Camper during the last race, helping them to a runners-up spot. Walker said McLean was “the smartest guy on the boat.” He is a qualified mechanical engineer.

Adil Khalid (UAE), Helmsman/Trimmer

The sole Emirati on-board and now on his second race around the world. He is already becoming a role model in the country, and Walker has called on him to step up as a “senior member of the team” this year. He is also, as Walker pointed out, “twice the size he was last time, from gym work.”

Luke Parkinson (Aus), Bowman and Helmsman

The baby of the crew, at 23, ‘Parko’ came to Walker with solid recommendations. He has trained with Australia’s Olympic squad and has been sailing since he was six. “It’s just fantastic to be part of the team,” he said. Walker says he will “basically be doing most of the work.”

Neal McDonaid (UK), Performance manager

A legend of the oceans and six-time VOR participant, McDonald will be as good as the team’s coach away from the boat, on the ground. The team hopes his vast experience will help in a sustained pursuit for victory.

“Neal is probably the sailor more than any I look up to,” Walker said.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae