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The Skippers of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Credit must read: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race
In the quest to conquer the Everest of the ocean Volvo Ocean Race skippers are sacrificing an Olympic bid, carrying the hopes of an entire nation and putting reputations at stake for a challenge that all may complete, but just one will win.
"This is always difficult, but goals that are difficult like this can mean even more". 
Left to right: Mike Sanderson, Team Sanya; Ian Walker, Abu Dhabi Racing Team; Ken Read, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG; Franck Cammas, Groupama Sailing Team; Iker Martinez, Team Telefonica; Chris Nicholson, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand.
The chance to compete against sailing’s best is what drives the men back to a race that offers no prize money, just the glory of holding the Volvo Ocean Race trophy.

Iker Martinez, Team Telefonica.
(Credit must read: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)
  • Team Telefónica skipper Iker Martínez had the opportunity for a third successive Olympic campaign, after winning gold and silver in the last two Games, but the chance to lead a Spanish team in the Volvo Ocean Race was an offer he couldn’t refuse.
    Along with his 49-er crewman Xabi Fernández, Martínez committed to a third Volvo Ocean Race.
“I want to achieve a very different goal, to try and fight for victory in the race,’’ he said. “This is always difficult, but goals that are difficult like this can mean even more. Once you do the Olympics you want new things.”
Franck Cammas, Groupama Sailing Team.
(Credit must read: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)
  • Frenchman Franck Cammas is the face of the first French entry since Eric Tabarly skippered La Poste in 1993-94, leaving Cammas carrying the hopes of his sailing-mad country.
    His reputation as one of the world’s greatest sailors is also at stake as he takes on monohull racing in his first Volvo Ocean Race.
    “It’s a positive pressure,” he said. “I think it’s very good to have a French boat in the Volvo Ocean Race because we have a presence in the sailing world. The French sailors are good at ocean racing, but it’s the first time since 1993, so it’s a long time since we’ve been here.’’
Ken Read, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG.
(Credit must read: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)
  • At 51 years young PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG skipper Ken Read is well aware that he is the oldest competitor in this edition – mainly because the media won’t let him forget it.
    Taking his third dip at Volvo victory, the seasoned sailor reckons he’s still young and remembers that the likes of Magnus Olsson skippered at the age of 60. Still, this time he is going to approach things differently.
    “I plan on stopping and looking around a bit more, kind of absorbing the adventure because you don’t ever know when you’re going to get back to doing something like this ever again,’’ he said.
Mike Sanderson, Team Sanya.
(Credit must read: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)
  • As the only Volvo Ocean Race skipper to have led a team to victory previously, Mike Sanderson has plenty on the line at the helm of Team Sanya.
    Racing a second hand boat against a fleet of latest generation Volvo Open 70s that have had years to develop potentially race-winning advancements, he knows he’s up against it.
    Making no secret of his expectations, Sanderson admits he has the simple goal of not finishing last in every race and just enjoying the race he loves. Not to mention the ultimate goal of returning to the 2014-15 race with an invincible Chinese entry.
    “Obviously it’s not an ideal circumstance, we’re in someone else’s boat and we’re late,’’ he said. “But I enjoy the sailing, I enjoy the camaraderie of the team, I enjoy the whole Volvo family. I wouldn’t’ have done it if I didn’t’ think I had one more in me after this.
    “The worse nightmare will be if we dropped off the back and we spend the next nine months as Tail-End-Charlie. So, there is some apprehension in that we realise the new boats are quicker, but there's lots of other variables -- where you go, what sails you’re taking -- so hopefully those have all mixed it up a little bit.”
Ian Walker, Abu Dhabi Racing Team.
(Credit must read: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

At the “Everest of the ocean” photo shoot atop the Cabeçó d'Or, some 4.000ft above the Mediterranean, the six skippers joked and chatted away like comrades.
But in just days the Leg 1 sprint to Cape Town will begin and the men will become competitors with the shared ambition to win.
Racing begins at 1400 local time, 1300 GMT. Don’t miss it.
Chris Nicholson, CAMPER with ETNZ.
Credit: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race

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