Ian Walker's win in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race is undoubtedly one of his career highs (see Volvo victory for Ian Walker and Abu Dhabi). But this man has achieved a lot over his sailing career, including that rare transition from Olympic helmsman, to America's Cup skipper, to winning ocean racing skipper.
Born in Worcester in 1970, Ian learn to to sail in Mirrors at Chipstead Sailing Club in Kent. He first hit the national headlines with a silver medal at the Savannah Olympic Games in the 470 class, where he crewed for the legendary John Merricks. He followed that with a second silver medal at the Sydney Olympic Games, helming in the Star class with Mark Covell as crew.
When Britain launched its first America's Cup campaign for many years in 2000, Walker was named as skipper. The team, entering its first event, were never expect to be a threat to the main players, but proved a strong team on the water, surviving the first cut.
Ian's move to offshore racing was a bit of a surprise to many and his Volvo Ocean race victory took three attempts. His first race was with the famous Green Dragon campaign of 2008-9. The Irish/Chinese entry that fought funding issues to produce an amazing result for the rookie skipper who entered the project with barely any offshore sailing experience. Finishing fifth out of eight boats, as well as putting on a legendary stopover in Cork, Ireland, Walker and his team finished the race as heros in Ireland.
His second race was tougher. Well-funded, Walker was expected to threaten for the overall title, and certainly improve on his previous result. However, a race which started with losing the rig on the first leg was packed full of disappointments with just the odd glimmer of promise. This time fifth was not a good result. A lesser man would have given up, but Ian Walker bounced back and dominated the 2014-15 race, winning the inshore series and setting a 24-hour record to boot. In winning the Volvo Ocean Race (formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race, he became the first British skipper to do so in the event's 37-year history.
See the story in the video below.
Ian's victory has earned him a well-deserved place on the 2015 boats.com YJA Yachtsman of the Year shortlist (see Yachtsman of the Year shortlist announced), the results of which will be announced in January 2016.
Ian Walker career highlights
2015 First Volvo Ocean Race (as skipper)
2011 Fifth Volvo Ocean Race (as skipper)
2008 Fifth Volvo Ocean Race (as skipper)
2000 Olympic Silver medal, Star class (as helmsman)
1996 Olympic Silver medal, 470 class (as crew)
1994 ISAF Doublehanded World Champion (470 class)
1993 International 14 World Champion (as helmsman)