Nice Guy To Lead Volvo's Mean Machine
Nice Guy To Lead Volvo's Mean Machine
Softspoken Kiwi Ray Davies, a veteran of two Volvo Ocean Races and three America's Cups, will lead Peter de Ridder's 2009 VOR campaign. "For the Record" from our November/December 2006 issue
Have you already selected your team?There are still a few posts to fill. We've talked to about six of the sailing crew and then we're going to leave a few options open. This race is hard on the crew, we saw that last time with a few injuries along the way, so instead of just 10 sailing crew we're going to target 13 or 14.
What types are you looking for?
We're recruiting people that aren't going to point the finger at others, that will take it on the chin if they make a mistake, and that will be calm under pressure. You need a balance, you need some very driven people, but then some people that aren't going to get hot-headed with each other. Guys that have an extremely high drive to win; they're not there for the paycheck. We want new blood to keep the old guys honest, probably a fifty-fifty mix between first-timers and veterans.
One sailor and one boat were lost during the last race. Does that weigh on your mind?
For sure you've got to think about Hans [Horrevoets, of ABN AMRO Two, who died during the last race] and the misfortune of movistar. Those are very real situations, they're not one-off accidents, they can happen again easily. These are extreme boats and they're pushed to the limit. We'd like to think a lot was learnt in the last race as far as structure, and there's been a lot done to strengthen the boats. It's a risky sport and as a skipper you've got to take on the responsibility of being sensible.
You're a soft-spoken guy; can you drive a team through the Southern Ocean with a velvet touch?
I think so. We proved that in winning the TP 52 circuit.
Speaking of Mean Machine's success in the Breitling Cup; what was your secret?
It was all in the preparation, much like a Volvo team. We had a good design, certainly our boat has been quick, and we've had a dedicated crew. Jon Gunderson has put in more effort than anyone in getting his sails right. We've had a bit of luck, which you need, and Peter's risen to the challenge as a helmsman.
Your first Volvo experience was with Grant Dalton on Merit Cup. How did that come about?
I joined pretty late, a week before the boat was launched, and there were five of us on a two-month trial for two positions. As it turned out, Dirk and myself got those final two, and here we are teaming up for the next Volvo.
You've sailed around the world with two of the best, Dalton and John Kostecki on illbruck. Does your style match either?
I like to think I can be a bit of a mixture between the two. Grant's strength is running a very tight ship and he's very clear with direction of where the team is heading. JK is a fantastic sailor and his actual on-the-water ability was outstanding.
What part of this campaign do you think you'll find the most challenging?
I think working very closely with the navigator and making some of the big decisions offshore.
Have you selected a navigator?
We know exactly who we want, but we're still in negotiations
What's involved in that process? Money?
There are quite a few factors. A lot of it is the other people you have involved in the team. Once guys start seeing whom else we're talking to, it generates more interest and enthusiasm. We're going to base the team somewhat on the illbruck system. It started with Dirk and I, and we're choosing some more guys and the circle is growing. It'll be very much a group decision on whom we pick, to make sure we have the most cohesive team possible.
After two Volvos and three America's Cup, why are you drawn back to the distance racing?
I just love the Volvo, you get involved in all aspects of the boat's performance. In the America's Cup you become very specialized, put in a box to an extent. The beauty of the Volvo is you're involved in designing the boat, trimming the sails, stacking the boat, navigational calls. It's much more of an all-around package. Also, you don't have to go around bottom marks; you can keep going downwind.