Captain Walker reaches for familiar crewmate to board ‘Azzam’

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team has identified a third member of their eight-man crew for the 2014/15 edition of the race, the on-board reporter Tom Bushell.

Ian Walker, captain of Azzam, gave Tom Bushell an early Christmas present by presenting him with one of the eight team member spots aboard the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing yacht. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
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The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team has identified a third member of their eight-man crew for the 2014/15 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, the on-board reporter Tom Bushell.

The Englishman, 31, was the winner of a five-month selection process in which Azzam captain Ian Walker played a key role. The team had more than 2,000 applications for each of the spots on the boat.

“I sailed with Tom in the Solent [in England] this summer, and more recently in the Hong Kong to Vietnam race where we encountered some fairly wild conditions, and Tom proved his mettle as a sailor,” Walker said. “His journalistic abilities were already well-established. This is a role like no other in journalism or in sport, and there is no hiding place on-board. It will be a steep learning curve, but from everything I’ve seen of Tom, he is up to it.”

As well as performing as a sailor, each on-board journalist in the fleet is expected to provide fans with insight over numerous media platforms into the experience of the 39,379-nautical-mile round-the-world race.

“I have no doubt that he will provide fans around the world with a superb insight into the stresses, toil, thrills and excitement on board our yacht thousands of miles into the open ocean.”

Bushell started sailing with his family at the age of 12, and he has experience in television, radio and print media.

“I am incredibly grateful for the faith that Abu Dhabi has shown in me with this selection. It is the best early Christmas present I could have wished for,” he said.

“The chance to be a part of this historic, once-in-a-lifetime event in the company of some of the world’s best sailors is something that I could never have turned down and I can’t wait to get started.”

He realises the smaller crew will mean greater responsibility for each hand.

“This time around with only nine crew in total [including the captain, compared to 11 in 2011/12], I know it’s going to be much, much harder,” Bushell said.

“Sure, it’s going to be far from easy, and I have a huge amount of training and preparations to undergo, but I’m ready to give my all to the team and do everything that is asked of me.”

Bushell expects that one of the highlights of the race will be the fleet’s arrival into Abu Dhabi for the two-week, second-leg race stopover, expected to begin in mid-December next year.

Having hosted the New Year stopover during the 11/12 race, the UAE capital is going all out to make the stopover a major event for fans.

At the heart of the New Year spectacular will be Abu Dhabi’s Destination Village, the race hub in the city centre on its Corniche.

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