Rafa Nadal Visits Mapfre Volvo Ocean Race Team In Abu Dhabi
Published: Friday, 02 January 2015
Spain's tennis ace Rafael "Rafa" Nadal paid a New Year’s Day visit to the Abu Dhabi Destination Village to give Spanish boat Mapfre a personal send-off before the start of Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race to Sanya, China.
The Spanish team’s regular skipper, Iker Martínez, will miss the upcoming leg due to Olympic commitments.
Stand-in skipper Xabi Fernández gave Nadal, who is ranked no. 3 in the world and is considered the best clay court tennis player in history, a crash course in what it takes to be an elite offshore sailor, showing him around the boat.
The tour included a nav station weather and route briefing with Jean-Luc Nélias, Mapfre’s navigator, who won the last edition of the race onboard Groupama.
“For me, it’s a great opportunity and a fantastic experience to be here with all the crowd, and fantastic people around the boat,” says Nadal.
As it turns out, the tennis star also has a passion for sailing.
“I know a bit about boats," Nadal says. "I love the sea. I’m from an island, Majorca, and my life is always very involved with the sea. So it’s just a pleasure to be here.”
The fleet will start Leg 3 of the race on Saturday, Jan 3 at 1000 UTC. The course will take them 4,670 nautical miles to Sanya, China.
(Photos: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)