Volvo Ocean Race: Highest level of offshore racing in the world

Published on October 22nd, 2014

Born in Cork, grew up in Ireland, Justin Slattery is sailing his fifth Volvo Ocean Race with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Here is an excerpt of an interview with

My First Race
I joined the 60-footer Newscorp in the 2001 Whitbread race. I had already been sailing Maxis on the professional circuit for over five years by then, racing either with or against most of the crews that would have been involved in the round the world scene at the time. In some ways it was almost a natural progression for me to get involved with the round the world race. It was something that I had been looking forward to getting into from the first day I heard about it.

The Moment

The moment when it clicked that this was something I wanted to do a lot of came I think when we set off from Southampton heading for Cape Town in 2001 and I thought, wow, I’m finally here racing with all these guys I’ve been reading about for years, my dream has finally come true, an amazing feeling. In some ways I’d made it to the start but I had yet to prove that I could actually do it.

The Southern Ocean
Leg 2 heading down into the Southern Ocean from South Africa. You’ve read about it, you’ve heard the stories, now you’ve got to get through it. I can tell you it lived up to everything it was supposed to be. One of the most frightening places in the world to be but also some of the most fun and exhilarating sailing you could ever do.

Race-end euphoria
There is always a massive anticlimax at the end of the race. The first time I finished it I realised I’d completed the race that I’d been thinking about for years and years. I asked myself, “what’s next?” Finishing it was one thing but it was became an obvious decision to go back out there again and try and win it next time. Following finishing my first race I spent a year racing everything from TPs to Maxis, anything that was relevant. And then I got the call to go and sail on ABN Amro. I got the call. I didn’t make the call. For the previous race I had kicked just about every door down in an attempt to get a spot on board, but this time the offers came to me. This was great and I felt privileged.

Why did they call me?
In my opinion people called me because they know me for having done so much for my experience. I’d worked all my life towards this. I had made the investment in time and energy but it is still a huge privilege to get that call. All the names on board ABN Amro were A-listers of the offshore world and now I was there too. To win the race was also a lifetime ambition achieved.

Click here for full report.

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