Wade Morgan will be familiar to fans from the previous race for his heroic work as bowman and boat captain with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. The Australian giant has now joined Luna Rossa for their America's Cup campaign and speaks of a “very different sport”.
The Volvo makes you an all-rounder sailor so hopefully I can adapt very easily into the roles I’ll be asked to" - Wade Morgan
Now aged 31, Morgan already had experience of two America’s Cup campaigns when he spoke to Luna Rossa.
"I had done some sailing with them before and I told them I was interested to join after the race,” he explains. “I left Galway (at the end of the Volvo Ocean Race) and went to a training camp in Italy for a few weeks, had a couple of weeks at home, then a couple of trips to New Zealand and that brings us up to date."
The Italian challengers are now training in Auckland and waiting for their 72-foot winged catamaran to be launched late October. Three former Volvo Ocean Race rivals are also joining Morgan: Groupama sailing team’s skipper Franck Cammas as a coach, as well as Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández from Telefónica as part of the sailing team. Yet, sailing Prada’s big catamaran next summer in the United States will be nothing like an offshore race.
“It’s a very different sport,” Morgan says. “In the Volvo Ocean Race, you get up every four hours to go on deck and it’s not so strenuous a lot of the time. While on these, it will be maximum 45 minutes to one-hour races, and I expect our heart rate to be over 80% for the entire race. It’s a very different sort of mentality sailing. But the principles are the same and I think we will pick it up very quickly.”
At 1,88 metres tall and weighing more than 110 kg, Morgan is not someone you miss easily – especially since he distinguished himself with his high profile work during Abu Dhabi's eventful Volvo Ocean Race campaign.
“I was Azzam’s boat captain and I ended up doing quite a lot of work with the boat," he says. "And because the boat has to serve you every day for 25 days, it’s a very different preparation to the America’s Cup, where you have a lot of specialised people. The rudder, for example: on the Volvo boat, it’s meant to go for 25 days while here, you've got a maintenance guy taking care of the rudder every day. As a sailing team member in the America’s Cup, you’re probably more focused on the sailing than you’re on the shore side in the Volvo Ocean Race.”
So how do you jump from one event to another? Surely it needs a bit of adjustment.
“The Volvo makes you an all-rounder sailor so hopefully I can adapt very easily into the roles I’ll be asked to," says Morgan. "You do the bow a bit, you trim a bit, you drive a bit, you cook some food… whereas on the new America’s Cup boat, you’ll be more specific in your role on board – in my case mainly grinding for the hydraulics or the winches. You end up very focused in your role, even if on this type of boats your range of activity is wider than on the previous AC class.”
Morgan says “it will be a nice change". But is he willing to come back and sail around the world one more time?
“I certainly left on very good terms with the Abu Dhabi guys and if they go again, hopefully they will give me a call! Yet, I hope I won’t be available – the goal would be defending the America’s Cup that we have to win next year! I shouldn’t do the next Volvo then. Otherwise I will be very keen again.”