Macca and Youngster join the Green Dragons
British sailor Neal McDonald has a prestigious sailing CV with an Olympic Games, three America’s Cups, three Whitbred and Volvo Ocean Races to his name. He also holds several successes in the Fastnet and Round Gotland Race, not to mention a victory in the international 14 world championships in 1989. For the Hamble-based sailor this will be his fourth edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, most recently as skipper of Ericsson in 2005-06. Neal will be one of two watch-leaders onboard Green Dragon, he will sail alongside Ireland’s Damian Foxall. After completing the delivery to Ireland, Neal commented; “I am very excited to be involved in this project. The Volvo Ocean Race has always held special place for me and I have a little unfinished business out there! This first sail has been awesome, it is great to see how the boat can perform, we have a fantastic team in place and I can’t wait to get back out sailing again!”.
Anthony Merrington (Youngster) has 17 years of yacht racing experience under his belt, accumulating over 120,000 offshore nautical miles. He has competed in two edition of the Volvo Ocean Race; 2001-02 with Team SEB and 2004-05 with Pirates of the Carribbean. The Australian has also sailed as pitman with the Swedish America’s Cup challenger, Victory Challenge, as well as several Sydney Hobart’s. Anthony was a key part of Rosebud’s winning Rolex Sydney to Hobart crew this year. He also sailed alongside McDonald aboard Ellen MacArthur’s Kingfisher B&Q on their Jules Verne attempt.
“I couldn’t be happier that Neal and Anthony are joining our team. In my mind Neal would be the first crewman on anybody’s teamsheet. He and Anthony offer this team another dimension both on and off the water,” commented Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker. “Their expertise will be crucial if we are to catch up the bigger teams”.
The 450 mile sail to Ireland was the first offshore test for the new Volvo Open 70. “The boat has performed brilliantly”, commented watch-leader Damian Foxall. ”We were able to settle into our watch systems but we also took time to conduct several sail tests en route. We know what are the key decisions we are faced with on the sail program and we are taking every opportunity we have to learn fast in those areas”.
The Green Dragon Team will be based in Ireland for the next two months; they will remain in Cork for the next three weeks before moving to their homeport of Galway. Upon leaving Galway the team will undertake their mandatory 2,000 mile qualification passage.
Board member Eamon Conneely who sailed with the boat to Ireland commented: “It is fantastic to be based out of Ireland before heading to Spain for the start. For many of the team it is a chance to come home, and it will hope to promote the Irish stopover in Galway next year - there aren’t many better places to train for an offshore race than in the Irish Sea and North Atlantic.”