Interview: Richard Mason
As a four-time competitor, New Zealander Richard Mason knows a thing or two about the Volvo Ocean Race. Last edition he stayed on land to run the shore side of the all-women Team SCA campaign and now is helping to shape the future direction of the race itself in the role of Operations Director at the race HQ in Alicante, Spain.
SRM: Tell us a bit about your unique relationship with the Volvo Ocean Race.
Richard Mason: It’s a life-long history that started with childhood dreams of competing after watching Peter Blake and the guys going around the world on the Ceramco [in the 1981-82 Whitbread Race].
Sometimes you follow your dreams and I ended up racing in the race.
I sailed in the race four times with varying levels of success and disaster and then got offered a very unique opportunity in the last race.
I was originally going to sail with the guys on Abu Dhabi, but when Magnus [Olsson – Team SCA coach] passed away, they felt they needed to strengthen the management side of the team on shore and on the technical side. So I joined them as shore manager.
That was a fantastic opportunity to be involved in something quite rare in the sport – to put together an all-female team to compete at the top level, in a strictly one design class that would fully expose all your weaknesses and your strengths. It turned out to be a fascinating challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it.
Then, at the end of that race, the guys here at Volvo kindly - or stupidly - came and asked me if I would be interested to work for them. So now I’ve ended up as the Operations Director.
SRM: That’s quite a catch-all title, but what does it really mean? What are you responsible for?
Richard Mason: I’ve got to figure out how to deliver this race. Effectively, in my role you’re responsible for the route - where we go leg to leg. There’s a lot of negotiating with the stopover host cities around how we incorporate the sailing side and how the logistical side of things will work. It’s about understanding what we can deliver, managing bump in times, the shipping schedules and lots and lots of other stuff, including... READ THE FULL ARTICLE