Ian Walker has his eyes on the top prize as Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing close in on victory in the Volvo Ocean Race.
The Warsash skipper and his seven-strong crew lie in first place overall with three legs remaining of the epic, round-the-world race.
It’s important we keep our focus and get across the finish line, we’re not there yetIan Walker
Having started in Alicante in October 2014, the race covers 11 ports and 38,679 miles across the globe.
So far the seven-strong race fleet has visited Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland and Itajai.
The boats are currently in Newport, Rhode Island, before racing to Lisbon, Lorient, The Hague and finishing in Gothenburg on June 27.
It was a nail-biting finale to the most recent leg as Abu Dhabi Offshore Racing were beaten to the line by closest-rival Dongfeng Racing, with just three minutes and 25 seconds separating the boats after 5,010 miles of racing.
Walker’s team are six points clear at the top of the rankings, having won the first and fifth legs in this seven-boat contest.
But the skipper is keen to maintain concentration ahead of the most gruelling and dangerous,leg so far.
Walker said: ‘It’s important we keep our focus and get across the finish line, we’re not there yet – there’s still six weeks to go.
There are no guarantees in ocean racing – nothing is enough at this stage, that’s for sure.’
The two-time Olympic silver medallist, who is competing in his third Volvo Ocean Race, believes there is far more to the event than just winning.
‘We’ve made some cracking memories in this race,’ said Walker.
‘Winning the first leg into Cape Town was extraordinary, especially by a narrow margin.
‘I would be lying if I said Cape Horn wasn’t one of the highlights of my life, let alone this race.
‘Cape Horn is something you fear, then there’s a tremendous feeling of relief and satisfaction when you round it.
‘That will stay with me for the rest of my life.’
For the 45-year-old, competing in the Volvo Ocean Race is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.
Walker added: ‘I grew up following the old Whitbread Round The World Race, watching the boats sailing into Southampton Water.
‘I remember as a young boy seeing the famous boats sail out around the world and back again and it made a tremendous impression on me.
‘It’s fun to share this with all the people back home.
‘We all want to be first to win, but even if you finish third, fourth or fifth, there’s still a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.
‘Every time we reach a port, having sailed a three, four, five, six-thousand-mile leg, however we finish, we never forget to stop to shake everyone’s hands and congratulate ourselves because it is a great achievement,
‘These are powerful boats, run by only eight guys. We have to deal with everything that’s thrown at us, relatively poor living conditions, not great food and not a lot of sleep.
‘It is a tremendous achievement.’
Elsewhere in the fleet, Portsmouth’s Sam Davies and Gosport’s Dee Caffari are competing for Team SCA as part of the first all-female crew to enter the race in more than a decade. They are currently in sixth place.