11th hour Spanish campaign

Photos: Maria Muiña/ MAPFRE
Skipper Iker Martinez talks us through his latest MAPFRE campaign for the Volvo Ocean Race
This is the fourth Volvo Ocean Race for Iker Martinez, since the two time Spanish 49er Olympic medallist first called tactics on the in-ports for Bouwe Bekking’s ill-fated movistar campaign in 2005-6. Since then the 37 year old Basque sailor has been team manager Pedro Campos’ ‘go-to guy’, co-skippering Telefonica Blue with Bekking in 2008-9 and skippering Telefonica in the 2011-12 race. Last time around Telefonica set off as favourite and seemed to be living up to the form guide when she won the first three legs of the race, launching her clear into the lead. However in the latter two thirds of the race, the Spanish boat’s performance seemed to drop off and was noted for being particularly lacklustre in the in-port races (Telefonica ended up second last overall in the in-ports), ultimately causing them to finish the race a disappointing fourth overall. Martinez’s view is that it was more a case of the other teams catching them up. “Last time, Groupama made very good choices before the start, they had a very good team and they improved a lot. They ended up very fast and it was very very difficult for us, particularly from upwind to 110⁰ TWA. At 60-90⁰ they were half a knot quicker and we weren’t able to match them. And we ended up breaking all this stuff because we were pushing 110% rather than 100% because we needed to.” However many suspected that Martinez and his long term crew Xabi Fernandez were also spreading themselves too thin, attempting to run their 49er campaign for London 2012 at the same time as competing in the Volvo Ocean Race. Again Martinez refutes this: “We were sailing the 49er some days for fun, but we were doing almost no Olympic sailing - we were fully focussed on the Volvo. I