Volvo Ocean Race - Neal McDonald joins MAPFRE

Volvo Ocean Race legend Neal McDonald is back for his eighth consecutive edition – as the Sports and Performance Director of MAPFRE.

The 53-year-old Brit played a key role on shore as Performance Manager with 2014-15 winners Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, joins Xabi Fernández and his crew to lift the trophy for the first time in Spain's history.

"I will do some legs," he revealed. "We'll choose the best sailors for each leg – and it may not be the same people every time."

"Our experience in the last race proves that this is a very long hard race, with short stopovers, people get tired and can't focus in some situations, so I'm sure we will make changes and I think other teams will probably do the same, too."

Neal's Volvo Ocean Race career stretches way back to 1993-94, when the race was known as the Whitbread.

He first tackled the event as a crew member on Spanish boat Fortuna – and it was a baptism of fire, as they broke their mast twice in the first 24 hours of the race, and ended up retiring.

He returned for the following edition, in 1997-98, onboard Silk Cut, and then stepped up to skipper Assa Abloy in 2001-02.

Ericsson snapped him up in 2005-06, and then Green Dragon in 2008-09.

His last race as a full-time sailor was in 2011-12, when he raced alongside Xabi, Pablo Arrarte and Ñeti Cuervas-Mons as watch captain on Telefónica.

He then called time on his career – hanging up his sailing boots, and switching to a shore-based role with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – although he did manage to sail one leg of the 2014-15 edition.

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