Ian Walker: “Si Fi’s experience is huge”
Published on January 13th, 2023
If the US-led IMOCA 11th Hour Racing Team is to win the 14th edition of The Ocean Race, a big contributor will be its British navigator, Simon Fisher. He teamed up with skipper Charlie Enright in the previous race, but got his start many years ago with Ian Walker. The duo later won the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15, with Walker offering how Fisher can do it again:
I’ve known ‘Si Fi’ since he was 19 and gave him his first job in the America’s Cup. The things that stand out about him are his all-round skills. He has been a first class offshore helmsman, he’s a world class trimmer and he’s a world class navigator, and I imagine he would be pretty good if he went up on the bow as well.
In terms of all-round sailing skills, he is probably unsurpassed. Then there is his fitness, strength and robustness. He has always had a big engine and he looks after himself and you can count on him 24/7.
And the last thing is his persona – his character, his personality. He’s a nice guy to be around, he is very level so he won’t get carried away if things are going very well, and he won’t get down in the dumps if it’s not going well.
He’s had some highs and lows in his career and I think he is really good at just getting the best out of the people around him. Fundamentally, he is a good bloke to be around, if you are going to spend a lot of time in a small space.
Si Fi’s experience is huge. It’s not just the number of times he has sailed around the world. He has sailed at the highest level of inshore grand-prix racing, as well as his Volvo Ocean Race experience, and then there’s the depth of contact he has with other top-class navigators and meteorologists who he has worked with.
By nature he’s actually is quite conservative. I am not saying he is not prepared to make bold decisions. But he plays the long game. If you look back at the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing campaign, when we won the race in 2014-15, we did that; we minimized risk, we let other people make mistakes.
If we are being honest, looking at the race this time, much of your navigation might be dictated by what’s smart, in terms of protecting your equipment and your boat, rather than trying to get from A to B in the fastest possible time, come what may. And that’s very much the way Si Fi approaches the race.
IMOCA: Boat, Design, Skipper, Launch date
• Guyot Environnement – Team Europe (VPLP Verdier); Benjamin Dutreux (FRA)/Robert Stanjek (GER); September 1, 2015
• 11th Hour Racing Team (Guillaume Verdier); Charlie Enright (USA); August 24, 2021
• Holcim-PRB (Guillaume Verdier); Kevin Escoffier (FRA); May 8, 2022
• Team Malizia (VPLP); Boris Herrmann (GER); July 19, 2022
• Biotherm (Guillaume Verdier); Paul Meilhat (FRA); August 31 2022
The Ocean Race 2022-23 Race Schedule:
Alicante, Spain – Leg 1 start: January 15, 2023
Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22; Leg 2 start: January 25
Cape Town, South Africa – ETA: February 9; Leg 3 start: February 26 or 27 (TBC)
Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1; Leg 4 start: April 23
Newport, RI, USA – ETA: May 10; Leg 5 start: May 21
Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May 30; Leg 6 start: June 8
Kiel, Germany (Fly-By) – June 9
The Hague, The Netherlands – ETA: June 11; Leg 7 start: June 15
Genova, Italy – The Grand Finale – ETA: June 25, 2023; Final In-Port Race: July 1, 2023
The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race and Whitbread Round the World Race) was initially to be raced in two classes of boats: the high-performance, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the one-design VO65 class which has been used for the last two editions of the race.
However, only the IMOCAs will be racing round the world while the VO65s will race in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint which competes in Legs 1, 6, and 7 of The Ocean Race course.
Additionally, The Ocean Race also features the In-Port Series with races at seven of the course’s stopover cities around the world which allow local fans to get up close and personal to the teams as they battle it out around a short inshore course.
Although in-port races do not count towards a team’s overall points score, they do play an important part in the overall rankings as the In-Port Race Series standings are used to break any points ties that occur during the race around the world.
The 14th edition of The Ocean Race was originally planned for 2021-22 but was postponed one year due to the pandemic, with the first leg starting on January 15, 2023.
Source: The Ocean Race