Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) – the competitive sailing team which is to take a second tilt at the grueling, nine month round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, which begins in Alicante, Spain this October – has recruited 23-year-old Perth sailor Luke Parkinson to its crew.
Luke, who turns 24 in February and is a member of the Australia Sailing Development Squad and the Western Australian Institute of Sport for sailing, will be one of ADOR’s under-30 crew members, and was selected by ADOR Skipper, the UK’s double-Olympian Ian Walker, after coming highly recommended within sailing circles and passing a crucial series of testing race trials.
“I sailed with Luke on this year’s recent Hong Kong to Vietnam Race in very testing conditions. I was very impressed with his attitude and his skills as both a bowman and offshore helmsman – he is a multi-tasker which will be essential in the next race sailing the new Volvo Ocean 65 and only nine crew members in total. Everything is going to be harder on deck in the next race. I have a very good feeling about Luke who I believe is hugely committed to producing his best for the team,” said Walker.
For the young Aussie, who goes by the nick-name Parko, who is a former Christ Church Grammar School pupil and is qualified in sail making, first aid, sea survival and as a radio operator, the ADOR appointment is nothing short of a “dream come true.”
“This is quite simply the best Christmas present ever! I can’t remember being this excited going into a New Year. To race in the Volvo Ocean Race for me is the challenge I want to work hardest towards. To me, doing the race is the biggest all-round challenge that provides the best sense of achievement and enjoyment. I just want to thank Abu Dhabi for giving me this chance – I will not let them down.
“For as long as I can remember I‘ve had a passion for sailing. From racing as a young child, I decided to continue to revolve my lifestyle around trying to make the best go at it that I can. I love the different challenges sailing brings to people and I believe it brings out true personalities when life is at its toughest.”
And life will certainly be tough for the young, single Aussie as he tackles the 40,000 nautical miles race on board ADOR’s sailing yacht ‘Azzam’ with a multi-national crew who sleep in four hour bursts to fit in with a taxing ‘watch’ rota.
Luke will team up again this month (December) with Ian Walker as the two crew with legendary, 85-year-old, Aussie sailor Syd Fischer onboard his 100-foot Ragamuffin for the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race. Ragamuffin clinched the trophy two years ago. Fischer and Ragamuffin have represented Australia six times in the international Admiral’s Cup regatta. The race starts on Boxing Day and Walker says it’s not going to be a push over.
“It will be a great experience for Luke and good offshore training for me too. There will be very tough competition in the 100fters as there will be us, Perpetual Loyal and Wild Oats, which has won the race five times. It will is another excellent training exercise towards our long-term goals we’re in for a white knuckle ride but will give our best,” said Walker.
Next up for Luke will be a February trip to Abu Dhabi – which will host the Volvo Ocean Race fleet over Christmas 2014 and New Year 2015 – to get to know his crew mates and the destination he’ll now represent. High up on his agenda is meeting his fellow under-30 crew mate Adil Khalid – the 25-year-old Emirati who became the only Arab sailor to complete the Volvo Ocean Race on ADOR’s maiden tilt in the 2011/2012 race.
“I’ve never been to Arabia before and I’m keen to learn more about it. I’m really looking forward to meeting Adil and swapping experiences. I’ve great admiration for him for setting role model standards for his fellow nationals – that’s the only way to build a sailing following – showing what can be done, the benefits it brings not only for the individual but for the community,” said Luke.