Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sailor Profile - Ross Halcrow

Trimmer Ross Halcrow (NZL) - 'Rosco' - has won both the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race and is considered among the best in the business at what he does.

A lifelong sailor, he started early, with cruises on the family boat.

"I started sailing when I was four years old, cruising with my parents on a 34-foot sloop in New Zealand. I started racing my own dinghy when I was eight years old and started progressing throughout he ranks in NZ."

His big boat sailing career started almost accidentally, when he was in Perth, Australia for his day job making sails at the 1987 America's Cup.

"I was there as a sailmaker and did quite a bit of sailing on the 12 metres," he explains. "I started sailing on the boats when they were short on numbers."

And realising he could fit in well with the crew, that's when he realised he could possibly be a Whitbread and an America's Cup sailor.

"I raced around the world in the 1989-90 Whitbread with Fisher & Paykel, finishing second, and did the 1992 America's Cup with the New Zealand Challenge. In the 1995 Cup I was the downwind trimmer for Team New Zealand when we won."

Since then, he's sailed in the Cup with Young America and BMW ORACLE Racing and won the Volvo Ocean Race with illbruck in 2001. Along the way, he's gathered up six world championship titles in various classes as well.

Now, he's learning how to transfer those skills to a multihull.

"This boat is far different from anything else we've sailed," he says. "It's a whole new discipline of sailing. This is in a category by itself. It's a whole lot faster for one thing! But we've been able to get up to speed with it really quickly. I think we're all very happy with the boat and the wing sail. The boat is way more manoeuvrable, easier to tack and gybe."

With the first race now less than two weeks a way, Rosco says he's looking forward to racing. That's the thing that he's missed out on most during the campaign so far.

"It's been a while since I've done a race and that's what I do - I race sailboats - so I'm looking forward to the competition," he says. "That's what it's all about. That's going to be the beauty of this America's Cup. We have some kind of an idea as to how fast they are, and they have an idea as to how fast we are but until the start gun goes and we line up for the first time and get going, we're not really going to know. It's going to be pretty exciting."