The General Manager of team MAPFRE in the Volvo Ocean Race, as well as owner of the five boats that have competed in the last four editions of this round the world race, Pedro Campos is an established competitive sailor and project director, whose campaigns include the America’s Cup, the Barcelona World Race and a team which competes across the board: from dinghy sailing to olympic competition and sailboat racing. Campos dreams of leading Spain to the very top of the Volvo Ocean Race
How has the Volvo Ocean Race evolved since your first project in 2005?
The biggest change has been moving to a one design. It is a completely different concept. On the one hand, there is a clear cost-saving advantage, yet on the other, it doesn’t allow the team to evolve at a technological level, which was attractive. However, most importantly, the fact that the boats are all exactly the same makes the race extremely close, and very competitive, so all the teams have a chance. If I am not mistaken, in the last edition of the race, all of the teams each won a leg.
As a boat owner, you are an expert not only in the present Volvo Ocean Race, but in the entire history of the regatta. We can’t be sure but there may not be another boat owner who has had five consecutive campaigns in the competition….
I don’t know if that’s good or bad (laughing), but I don’t know. We started in Galicia and it went well, so we repeated the experience in Alicante, and again it worked out well. The last edition was very complicated because we were short on time, and it was a great change to move into the one design formula of the competition, but here we are again thanks to our sponsors, in this case, MAPFRE, and previously Telefónica. I think we learn something new with each round-the-world race. In the 2008-09 edition we were the country with the greatest number of crew members competing in the whole fleet, which was unheard of, because five or six years earlier we hardly even existed. Let’s see now if experience can produce results.
What can you tell us about MAPFRE?
This time we have been able to start the campaign with more time on our hands, thanks to the sponsor’s previously-made decision. In general, the authorities have also enabled everything to be much more agile, and we are grateful for that, as we have people with a lot of experience on the team. In fact, practically the whole team has already completed a round-the-world race, (although the team still hasn’t been decided one hundred per cent), and most of them have sailed this very boat or this type of boat. That is the luxury we have: knowing the boat really well even before beginning the race, and having more time on our hands. And this means we are really excited to see if we can turn it into a great result this time.
How would you describe Xabi on the boat, both as sportsman and as a skipper?
He’s a true diesel engine; he doesn’t accelerate and he doesn’t stop either (laughing). Xabi is tremendously valuable. He is someone who guarantees a very high minimum level. He has the abilities needed to win a round-the-world race, which is like running a marathon, or a long-distance race.
From the last edition of the race to this one, there are several novelties. One of the most spoken about rules is encouraging the presence of women on the teams. What are your feelings about that?
It is a complete unknown for everyone. Sharing the experience of the ‘Volvo’ is extremely tough, with conditions being as difficult as they are, extremely limited space and huge fatigue. It is a challenge for everyone. However, we have very good candidates, and when the try-outs have been completed we will be able to finally announce the full team, and give a more detailed opinion.
Another great change is related to the route. In the last edition, the teams raced up to Abu Dhabi, whilst this time round, that is not the case, and means there is much more racing in the Southern Ocean. What in your opinion, does that imply?
I have always said that when you are well-prepared for a championship, you want very little to be left to chance, or as we like to call it, “to the lottery,” because if you know that the wind is more or less stable, in the long run you are going to make your mark. However, when you are less prepared, you prefer shiftier conditions because you can always come up with a stroke of luck. In this sense, and with the present team and the experience we have, I prefer the current route as it is.
What do you think that MAPFRE can offer in this edition, which maybe it couldn’t in the last?
Fundamentally, more preparation time, and this also means a higher budget, because greater preparation time always requires greater investment in the crew and everything. I feel that this is the most fundamental difference. Besides, in our case it is the first time we are going to race the same boat as in the last race. After so many miles of sailing already in the race we have an important in-depth knowledge of the boat. But so does Dongfeng, and we still don’t know which other teams are yet to be announced, with crew members that will also have the same level of experience.