Our profile of a pro this week is on Ian Walker, who is no stranger to ocean racing. He is the only British skipper to have won The Ocean Race in 2014/2015 with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Today, Ian is the Director of Racing at the Royal Yachting Association. In this interview with Niall from Offwatch, he talks about his fascinating career in The Olympics, The America’s Cup, and of course his famous victory in the 2014-15 Ocean Race. Ian also talks about how to get into The Ocean Race as a sailor, and he shares his opinion on one-design sailing.
An impressive career in sailing
At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Walker received the silver medal in the 470 class along with his sailing partner, John Merricks. At the 1996 470-European-Sailing-Championship he won the bronze medal with his partner John Merricks. Sadly, on 15 October 1997, both Walker and Merricks were passengers in a minivan in Italy when the driver lost control, and Merricks was killed.
When Britain launched its first bid for the America’s Cup for 14 years in 2000, Walker was named as the skipper. Then, in the 2007 America’s Cup he joined fellow Olympic medallist Iain Percy as the tactician of the Italian team +39 Challenge. His America’s Cup commitments were combined with the highly successful TP52 campaign as skipper of Patches, owned by Eamon Conneely.
The Ocean Race 2008/09
In 2008/09 he was the skipper of Green Dragon in the Volvo Ocean Race, the boat finished fifth in this race out of eight competitors.
In 2011/12 Walker skippered Abu Dhabi’s first entry in the Volvo Ocean Race – Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Overall the team finished fifth out of the six competitors.
Ian was appointed as Skipper of Abu Dhabi‘s next entry into the Volvo Ocean Race, sailing the new VO65 class. He successfully lead the team to victory, securing an insurmountable point lead over the other teams on the second to last leg. During this race the team also won the in-port race series and set a 24-hour distance record of 550.82 nautical miles while approaching Cape Horn.
- Fastest circumnavigation – Isle of Wight – 2 hours 21 minutes (Foncia) August 2012. Ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council
- Fastnet Monohull Race record – 42hrs 39min, (Volvo Open 70 Abu Dhabi) in August 2011
[Profile with a Pro: Ian Walker]