Barcelona-born Joan Vila is one of the best, if not the best, navigators in the world. Competing with MAPFRE in the Volvo Ocean Race 15 years after his last participation, for some he is a character shrouded in mystery. Others consider him quite abrupt. Yet they couldn’t be any further from the truth. Joan Vila is quite simply, a man of few words, and when he does speak, it is with true dignity. The following is how he describes his team mates on board MAPFRE.

XABI. A great skipper, a great navigator, and moreover, one who is a true of example of practicing what he preaches.

PABLO. Hugely knowledgeable, he knows the boat inside out. He doesn’t need to look at previous performance files, or to know how the boat could be better. He seems to know it all by heart.

ROB. An excellent navigator. He is the one behind everything, making it all move. He makes sure we don’t skip any of the details, which could mean we don’t make it in the round-the-world race. He is pretty much the one who ensures the day-to-day work of the boat is done.

“ÑETI”. He can do anything. He really is the person who best knows the boat. I don’t actually think we could be on board without him, because he really knows how everything works. And not only that, but he is an excellent bowman. All the energy he puts into every manoeuvre is also there when people feel discouraged, and he is the one behind them, suggesting, motivating and giving them a little push. It’s pretty impressive.

TÁMARA. She is fabulous! She says she has come here to learn, but in the end, the one who ends up learning something will be me. She is an excellent professional, and she makes the same effort in everything as if she didn’t know how to sail, and she is an olympic champion! A great sailor.

SOPHIE. She is pure strength. We always say that women mostly don’t have the same amount of strength as men, and in my opinion I don’t think this will be the case with Sophie. She has the experience of the last Volvo Ocean Race, and is one of our great crew members.

WILLY. In my opinion he is an improved version of his father! (laughing). He has great passion for everything he does, and takes everything incredibly seriously. He doesn’t want anything to be left to improvisation, and has everything completely under control. Moreover, he is an excellent sailor.

BLAIR. His energy is incredible. As well as his qualities as a sailor… no more words are necessary. If we win, which is our aim, he will be one of the few people to have won an Olympic medal, an America’s Cup, and a Volvo Ocean Race.

LOUIS. I sailed with him in the America’s Cup. His physical strength and fitness are incredible. It is one of his virtues, but besides this, he has a great deal of experience. He is a true sailor, and despite his youth, is very experienced.

NEAL. He is the soul behind the team’s preparation, both on shore and on board. Neal’s advantage is that he has also been a skipper in his time, he knows what the Volvo Ocean Race involves, and what is needed to win. He puts a great deal of energy into knowing what makes the boat go faster, and what we need to try to make that happen. It is one of the things that means that we can be in the Volvo Ocean Race, and maybe this time win it.