Volvo Skippers have the final word

Volvo Ocean Race Skippers Press Conference in Alicante, Spain

They lined up on the stage, mostly staring at their feet. When the microphone was passed around, the eight Volvo Race skippers took turns to speak inoffensive lines to the press pack.

At this stage in the day, press conferences do not win points. They can generate exposure and fill pages, but, with 24 hours until the curtain is raised on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, thoughts are of a bay a few hundred yards away.

There, in what is expected to be a gentle breeze, these characters will spring to life. The neutral, calm personalities on a stage will morph into every extreme on the water, screaming, shouting, urging and cursing. And all for a maximum four points.

Ger O’Rourke, skipper, Delta Lloyd, on how he feels sitting on stage with his fellow Volvo Ocean Race skippers: 'It’s a deeply humbling experience…This is a chance to do the race of your dreams.'

Anders Lewander, skipper, Ericsson 3, on how his crew is dealing with the penalty imposed yesterday: 'We have very strong team spirit and have been working together for a long time. We are focussing on tomorrow and preparing the boat. For us as a sport team, we can only focus on the race and battle on.'

Torben Grael, skipper, Ericsson 4, on how he will use the two extra crewmen allowed on board for the in-port race: 'There’s so much more manoeuvring than in previous races that we are bringing on board to big guys to help grind the sails.'

Ian Walker, skipper, Green Dragon, on the challenge of getting to the start line: 'It’s been a long road to get to this point. The race starts tomorrow but for many of these teams, it seems like the race started about a year ago. It’s only in the last couple of days that an air of calm has descended and we feel like we’re on top of the job list and at a point where you actually can’t do any more.'

Ken Read, skipper, PUMA Ocean Racing, on how hard it is to sail these offshore boats on an in-shore course: 'These boats are really hard to sail around this race course. They’re animals…I think the Volvo race organisers are part sadists. The race course is hard enough without that centre gate. But it will be more action-packed, more fun, and it will keep the boats closer together, but it’s certainly harder for us.'

Fernando Echavarri, skipper, Telefonica Black, on which of the two teams is favoured: 'I think we have been working hard on the Black team as we showed yesterday but I think there is no favourites right now. Anybody can win and for tomorrow it is important to be as safe as possible with the boats and enjoy the race.'

Iker Martinez, co-skipper, Telefonica Blue, on his busy year: 'Too many good things this year! I hope it will stay like this for this race. It is something very special for me. This is a nice race and we have a very good team. The opportunity to come here with my home team is very special.'

Andreas Hanakamp, skipper, Team Russia, on his team’s motivation in the race: 'The main objective of this team is to promote the spirit of Russia and the WDCS (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society) because we are sailing in the environment we love the most as we sail around the world to get to Russia. Doing this within something like the Volvo Ocean Race is very thrilling.'

Events in Alicante - Saturday, October 4

Race Village open – 08:30-02:00
Volvo Ocean Race Experience - 08:30-02:00
In-port race departure – 10:30
In-port racing – start time: 13:00
In-port prize-giving – 17:15 (main stage)
Evening parades – 19:00-21:00
Bryan Adams concert – 22:00 (main stage)

Events in Alicante - Sunday, October 5

Race Village open – 08:30-02:00
Volvo Ocean Race Experience - 08:30-02:00
Extreme Fun Fair – 17:00-20:00
Replica VO70 racing – 17:00-18:30
Pro-am racing – 09:00-17:00
PUMA fashion show – 19:00-20:00
Evening parades – 20:30-21:30

The first leg from Alicante to Cape Town starts a week later. The 6,500 nautical mile passage will see the fleet negotiate the Doldrums and pass the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha then pick up the westerlies for Cape Town