Monday, 23 December 2013


Walker and ‘Parko’ join Team Ragamuffin before turning New Year sights to Volvo Ocean Race bid

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) skipper Ian Walker, and fellow crew member Luke ‘Parko’ Parkinson, join forces on Boxing Day to take on the infamous Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race on board Australian yachting legend, Syd Fisher’s, Team Ragamuffin.

The gruelling 628 nautical mile race is known as one of the world’s most challenging sailing events and is a fearsome test and a New Year launch-pad for the ten months of intense Volvo Ocean Race preparations that lie ahead for them.

Aussie ‘Parko’ (23) was last week appointed the latest member of ADOR  which will take on the world’s greatest marine adventure, the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race, beginning in Alicante, Spain in October next year. The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) – backed team will contest its second consecutive Volvo Ocean Race with the UK’s double-Olympic silver medallist at the helm.

“Sydney-Hobart is always a great challenge and a thrill for any sailor,” said Walker.

“Parko and I raced together recently with Team Ragamuffin from Hong Kong to Vietnam and what I saw of him then convinced me, without doubt, that he’s the right man for our set-up. He has the right attitude and crucially has the ability to crew both as bowman and helm – I expect we’ll bond firmly during the Sydney-Hobart gig and get deeper insights into our individual approaches, which will help us in the months that lie ahead.”

Parko, 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 for next year’s Volvo Ocean Race. But for now his focus is firmly on the gruelling Boxing Day challenge.

“Over the next few days there’s no opportunity to be thinking about the Volvo Ocean Race, the focus is simply on giving everything for Team Ragamuffin to try to take the honours in Hobart.

“I’m looking forward to sailing with Ian again and I’m under no illusion that it will be a very tough few days racing. The competition in the 100fters is stiff, and the conditions for the Sydney-Hobart always make things interesting and inevitably throw in plenty of surprises and unexpected issues to deal with. This is a great chance to store up more experience to bring to the ADOR team.”

Walker and ‘Parko’ join a Team Ragamuffin that is steeped in history and impeccable racing credentials. Originally launched in 1989 as Maximus, the yacht underwent a major rebuild in 2004, and was then lengthened to 100ft in 2009. Team Ragamuffin’s legendary skipper Syd Fischer was honoured in October with Yachting Australia’s Lifetime Achievement award and at 86 years old, this year equals the record for the oldest skipper in the Sydney-Hobart race.

The fleet is expected to reach the Tasmanian port of Hobart on 28th December when, following several days of rest and recovery, Walker and Parko will turn their focus on the Volvo Ocean Race challenge ahead. The first major ADOR milestone for both will be in February, when the full ADOR team gathers in Abu Dhabi. For Parko it will be his first ever trip to the Arabia and he’s looking forward to getting a feel for waters around Abu Dhabi city - the host for the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race New Year stopover.

“I’ve heard so much about Abu Dhabi from Ian and from Adil Khalid who’s ADOR’s Emirati crew member,” said Parko.

“The previous Volvo Ocean Race stopover and in-port race in Abu Dhabi looked incredible, with stunning blue waters and thousands of fans on the breakwater watching the action and clearly so passionate about the race. It’s what you dream of as a professional sailor. Hopefully, the success of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will help to continue to grow interest and participation in sailing across the UAE.”

Firstly, however, is the small matter of the historic Rolex Sydney-Hobart. You can follow news of Ian and Parko’s progress with Team Ragamuffin in Australia, together with all the information on the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team and the Abu Dhabi stopover for the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race, by following on Facebook –, on Twitter - @ADOR, or online at

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