Photo: Maria Muina

Getting to know Iker and Xabi

Spanish racing heroes to set sail on the Barcelona World Race

Monday December 20th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

They've been sailing together for over ten years. They've enjoyed a successful sporting life together, brimming with victories, and of course the odd tough moment. They are Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández.

Twice medallists and Olympic champions, three-time World and European champions, a gold Royal Order Medal for Sporting Achievement, and round the world sailors... Now they are co-skippers on the IMOCA Open 60 Mapfre and on 31 December they will set out on what will be the toughest challenge of their careers so far: 25,000 miles ahead of them, the two skippers alone in the immensity of the ocean.

So what makes these sailing legends tick?

Your favourite dish?
Iker: Spaghetti.
Xabi: Fried eggs and chips.

Sleeping on a boat or at home?
I.: At home, for sure.
X.: At home.

Which regatta have you watched the most times?
I.: The Olympic Games.
X.: I couldn't pick one!

A sailor?
I.: Torben Grael.
X.: Jane Abascal.

The strangest prize you've ever received?
I.: No particular one that springs to mind…
X.: Perhaps the one we got from the Gastronomy Society.

Maximum boat speed?
I.: 36.5 knots in a Volvo Open 70.
X.: 34 - 35 knots in a VO 70.

The best regatta?
I.: Probably the Olympic Games in China.
X.: The Olympic Games in Athens.

You hate…
I.: Lazy people.
X.: Dragging behind.

You like…
I.: Hard workers.
X.: Winning a regatta.

The best advice you have ever been given?
I.: Be patient.
X.: I can't say, because I didn't follow it.

A favourite phrase?
I.: You'd have to ask Xabi.
X.: “Well…”

A day without sailing is…
I.: A very fun or a very boring day.
X.: A day off.

Olympic or offshore sailing?
I.: My passion, since I was a boy: Olympic sailing. I'm starting to like offshore sailing very much.
X.: A little bit of everything.

Favourite film?
I.: Airbag (a Spanish comedy).
X.: Airbag (ditto...).

An invention?
I.: There are too many good ones! Perhaps “the basics”: the lightbulb and the wheel.
X.: The canting keel.

A place?
I.: Hondarribia (Basque Country).
X.: Home.

A flaw?
I.: Many.
X.: Many.

A personal quality?
I.: Working hard.
X.: Many as well.

A fear?
I.: That something happens to somebody.
X.: That either of us get hurt during the regatta.

Your strongest rival?
I.: “Foncia”, “Paprec Virbac” and “President”.
X.: “Foncia”, “Paprec Virbac” and “President”, on one hand, and the entries from the Barcelona base such as “Estrella Damm” and the IMOCA “Renault Z. E.”.

A treasure?
I.: My loved ones.
X.: This boat, for now.

A wish?
I.: That everything goes well for us and without a hitch, and that nothing happens to Xabi or me during the race.
X.: That the regatta finishes well.

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