Aug 27, 2014

Olympics, Multis vs 49ers, AC & the Volvo: Iker Martinez Interview

Images. Jesus Renedo, CSN & Maria Muiña/ Sailingshots. - Double Olympic medalist in 49er, Volvo Ocean racer and an Olympic Catsailor aiming for the gold at Rio 2016. Not much to add on Iker, beyond I met him at Carnac Eurocat in May, and as many of the top guys I've met, he is quite humble and it shows he is a good guy and even better sailor of course.
On fresh news Iker Olympic teammate,  Tara Pacheco has suffered an injury this week, more info when available as Santander Worlds are coming next weeks.
Below Iker talks on the 49er vs Nacra 17, the new Americas Cup and the Volvo new format.

- CSN: How was the adaptation process coming from the 49er to the Nacra 17 Multi?
Plus when you decide to campaign cats and why?
Iker Martinez: I wanted to sail Cats for a long time, we tried with Xabi after China, but they took out the Olympic Tornado so it was not possible at the time.
After London games I went directly to New Zealand to sail Luna Rossa, and had the luck to sail the SL33 and the AC72, both in foiling mode, and I enjoyed sailing them very much, so my decision was to keep the Cats path after that experience.
It was something new and exciting and the best option to learn was an Olympic Class so the Nacra 17 fit to what I wanted to do.

Once the boat was chosen I contacted Tara on her experience and her past results, and although we didn't knew each other well, we give it a try and decided to sail together.

- The 49er is clearly more difficult to handle , specially in more wind. Which was the sensation with the Nacra 17? 
IM: The Nacra 17 compared with the 49er is quite easier to handle, yes you are right specially talking of capsizing , but as any Class if your target is going faster, things change and it is tough in any class as everyone works hard to pursue mac performance.
Doing the Eurocat was also useful to keep getting into the Cat world specifics and comparing the F18 made me differentiate the special features of the Nacra 17 and its weight and curved boards.

In any case the biggest difference with a 49er with N17 it is on the upwind legs, as the downwind

it is quite similar, as I don´t even realize sailing two hulls, but upwind the scenario changes and there we had to work harder last months.

- Beyond handling , which are the main differences on how to address  tactics & strategy between both classes?
IM: The races are quite similar as the Nacra 17 seems to have an excellent handling , for this reason the racing doesn´t change much. Again, only maybe upwind legs.

- How do you see yourselves positioned for the future, Spain is the last Olympic Multiuhll Champion, nice legacy you've been handed! 
But Tara and you have recently won the N17 Europeans, massive achievement on the lack of experience compared to Multi specialist and champs like Besson, Cammas, Bundock and others...IM:The future is always tough to predict, but without a doubt Fernando and Anton legacy winning the gold medal in Beijing is quite difficult to repeat.
With this being said, we keep working to improve and learn to reach the level of the bests in this Class, trying to consolidate our performance and evolve each day. Then we will see where this effort

takes us.

The Nacra 17 is a new Class and little by little we start to understand what this boats 'wants', sailing against Billy, Lange and others it is a great challenge and motivation for us.

- There are several Olympic 'veterans' medalists like you, Santi or Bundock. How do you see the new generation of Olympic sailors that aim to get what you guys already did. What you can recommend to them?
IM: The Youths will always reach the old guys, and they will 'retir'e us!  Is the law of Life itself, but we will work hard for this to occur the latest as possible!!
My recommendation is surely for them to work hard during several years, that is the only secret for a successful Olympic campaign. As Santi Lange did and is doing for example, still in shape at 53.

- You lately also race F18 , and your first experience was really good as I saw live at Carnac where Fer van West and you won the Course Racing and were close on the Long Distance.
Which are the main diff on the F18 and the N17?
IM: The F18 seems to me a more 'gentle' boat, the reactions are slower , as it is a heavier displacement cat, I think the curved boards make the N17 a total different boat. The width also works toward a slower healing.
The Spinnaker has more draft also thus you need to sail it more VMG style, as opposed to the N17 that likes to tighten sheet and speed up, the curved boards push the bows up and the boat feels lighter.
In some aspect it is a total different boat than the F18,

- Several skipper from last ACup come from the 49er , like Draper and Nathan. Do you see yourself helming an AC62 ? That to me there is a real chance to happen ?
IM: I would like to sail in the Americas Cup but sadly is too difficult for people like us, I was lucky to sail Luna Rossa boats in New Zealand and enjoyed it a lot, more with the new foiling 'ingredient' , it has become a fascinating World and none of us want to be out of it, but being realistic for people that doesn´t weight 90-100kg there is not much positions to be on the AC Cat.
I'm really excited on the whole deal though , even helping in the development stage, the Americas Cup has become a Show that sailors of our background are passionate about.

- How do you like this new format then?
I like it, and I think it is the right path to follow, expensive, but when the Cup wasn't??
I think we owe much to Oracle for this change , the investment on the broadcasting and the racing format.
They have invented a new game and I like it .
As with all changes there is a transition stage but there is no turning back, I don´t imagine an Americas Cup touching the water now, when the spectators boats can pass them by flying 20knots with a foiling cat for instance,
it makes no sense going back to slower boats.

- Now you are also involved in the Volvo, how are going to coordinate both projects looking towards Rio?
Good question. We will try harder on the Nacra and it is probable that I don´t sail some stages of the Volvo to keep the Nacra 17 compromises going but now we are starting with the Volvo and it is too early to know how exactly we are going to organize us.

- How do you see the new One Design Volvo format?
At the beginning I didn´t like it at all, the race loss a great feature without doing research, but on the other side if it weren´t for this new format we couldn´t have been able to participate in this edition.
So it has two sides of the story.
The organization now has a great responsibility on maintaining the boats and logistics, so it will be up to them the level of fail or success of this new format.

- Who are behind the team in this campaign?
The Olympic program is sponsored by Movistar as always, without them we couldn´t continue to compete on the federation fund problems.
The Volvo programs is being defined these days , sponsors et all, so in a way we are putting the cart before the horse, but there is no other alternative to start fast so we will organize ourselves as the project progress.

- Next events , Projects?
After the Sevenstart Round Britany race with the Volvo 65 we will have the Nacra 17 World Championship
at Santander, from there to Alicante for the Volvo start, so it is a filled agenda for the rest of the year.