Interview: Phil Harmer on the Volvo Ocean Race
Australian offshore racer Phil Harmer knows a thing or two about the Volvo Ocean Race. He’s competed four times so far and in the last two editions he was on the winning crew. In this candid interview he shares his thoughts on the race that he has now loved, lived and breathed for more than a decade.
SAIL RACING MAGAZINE: How would you describe what the Volvo Ocean Race means to you?
PHIL HARMER: Let me make one thing clear: I LOVE this race. It’s become a huge part of my life and my family’s lives. Signing on to compete means a lot to me every time and taking part gives you a unique feeling, right from the start day all the way through to the finish.
Even between races I have great fun reliving experiences from previous editions with young or adult sailors, or perhaps just sitting at home telling my two young sons about it. During the last race my eldest son’s class at school in the UK got really into it. The teachers used the opportunity to follow us as we raced around the world and made it into an interactive learning experience, which I think is a fabulous idea.
SRM: The first time you took part was in the 2005-06 race when you were originally scheduled to sail with ABN AMRO 2 but ended up with Brunel. Tell us about that?
PH: Yes, I had originally been selected as part of the ABN AMRO 2 crew, after an extremely full-on selection process. However, for personal reasons, I made the decision to leave the team. It was a hard choice to make as I really didn’t want to leave because I knew I was giving up a huge opportunity. Happily though, when I visited the VOR stopover in Melbourne, Australia, I met up with the Brunel guys and they asked me to join them for the remainder of the race. I was very grateful for that chance to rejoin – it was my ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card and I grabbed it with both hands and didn’t let go.
SRM: Take us back to that first race – what can you remember about your first VOR experience?
PH: I remember that setting off on the offshore legs was always amazing! The whole atmosphere at the docking out ceremony, saying goodbye to friends and family and then getting ourselves into race mode. It’s always a very busy day and pretty stressful for the sailors, but as soon as that last power boat or helicopter has disappeared it’s just the best feeling.
In particular, I have a really clear memory of... READ THE FULL ARTICLE