Who's onboard?

Text by Jonno Turner
Stand by for transatlantic thriller to Cardiff
Heading south
Who's onboard? Text by Jonno Turner
So - you've heard about the BT Sport Relief Challenge: Hell on High Seas, and you can't wait to watch the six celebrities and half a dozen Volvo Ocean Race veterans slam their way around the UK next week.

But you've got some burning questions, haven't you? Who is the most nervous about this voyage? Who's got their sea legs, and who needs an extra sick bag or two?

Well worry not. Here's everything you need to know about the characters jumping onboard the Volvo Ocean 65 on Monday morning in Belfast...


Alex Jones

Who she is: Since 2010, Alex has been the co-host of the BBC's flagship show, 'The One Show'. She's also hosted the hugely popular Let’s Dance (for Comic and Sports Relief), The Jubilee Celebration Coverage and The Royal Wedding. Alex is no stranger to life at the extreme - in 2014, she climbed 1200 ft up Moonlight Buttress for Sport Relief, sleeping on the side of the sheer rock face and even spending her birthday there, too. But it was worth it - she raised over £1 million!

What she says: "Feeling pretty sick about the whole thing now that it's been announced, but I'm so lucky to be going with a top team. I'm overwhelmed and genuinely touched by the messages of support. Thank you!"

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Ore Oduba

Who he is: Ore's a rising star of sports broadcasting and a regular face on the UK’s leading morning news programme, BBC Breakfast. In 2015, Ore presented from a myriad of sporting events; Wimbledon, the London Marathon and the London Triathlon. But it's not just talking about sport - Ore's pretty handy, too. He represented the South West of England U18 in rugby as well as being on the England Hockey’s elite U18 development scheme.

What he says: "I've never even been on a sailing boat before... this could be interesting!"

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Suzi Perry

Who she is: Suzi's the Queen of the Pit Lane having been the first permanent female anchor of BBC One’s Formula 1 coverage, and also broadcasting MotoGP, World Superbike and Speedway over two decades. Her sporting credentials also include BBC’s live coverage of Royal Ascot, Wimbledon, the London Marathon, the Olympics, the Great North Run and the Boat Race.

What she says: "I think it's going to be really fun. It's going to be really exciting - the trip of a lifetime. Yes, it's going to be tough, but what an opportunity."

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Angellica Bell

Who she is: Angellica has fronted a number of BBC1 prime time shows during 14 years working on the channel. She's also one of the longest serving reporters on The One Show, having been part of the team since the first show. 

What she says: "It's starting to sink in! It will be an experience for sure!"

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Doon Mackichan

Who she is: Doon is a multi-award winning actress and comedienne, renowned for her work in radio, theatre and TV. She has written for shows such as The Day Today, Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Partridge and BAFTA winning sitcom, Smack The Pony. Her one-woman show, Prima Doona, sold out at Edinburgh in 2010, winning a Fringe First. She also knows all about ocean challenges, having swam the English Channel as part of a six-person relay team!

What she says: "I asked about going to the loo, and they said, 'have you used a she-wee before? If not, you can just throw it overboard'. I think that underlines what we're dealing with..."

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Hal Cruttenden

Who he is: Hal is a stand up comedian, actor and writer who has hosted Live at The Apollo and appeared on a host of television shows, including 'Have I Got News For You', 'Mock The Week' and 'Would I Lie to You?'. A radio regular, his sitcom ‘Hal’ goes out on Radio 4, where he stars as a stay-at-home husband trying to reinvent himself. 

What he says: "I'm a bit of a worrier. I'm going to try and keep it down, not spread panic, or I know I'm going to be chucked off the boat!"

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Ian Walker 

Who he is: The winning skipper of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, and with two Olympic medals under his belt, Ian needs no introduction. The Brit will skipper the boat.

What he says: "When the sea is rough, you haven’t slept for days and you are drenched to the core even simple tasks like brushing your teeth can seem impossible. This will be a tough challenge for the seasoned sailors let alone our celebrities. It could well be a true Hell on the High Seas."

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Dee Caffari

Who she is: Having sailed onboard Team SCA during the 2014-15 Race, Dee is no stranger to the Volvo Ocean Race. She brings heaps of experience to the boat, and is the first female ever to sail solo around the world in both directions.

What she says: "My advice to the celebrities is to get involved in as many parts of sailing the boat as possible. If you don't, it gets very cold, very quickly. The more you put in, the more you get out."

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Phil Harmer

Who he is: This tough Aussie sailed alongside Ian during the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race - winning his second consecutive trophy, having sailed with previous winners Groupama in 2011-12. 

What he says: "My three tips to the celebrities? Crawl, don't walk; stay warm & enjoy yourself!"

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Sara Hastreiter

Who she is: In 2014-15, American Sara sailed onboard Team SCA, the first all-female entry in the Volvo Ocean Race in over a decade. 

What she says: "I'm looking forward to is the collective senses of humour we have onboard. I think it'll be a really fun trip for a great cause - and it's great exposure for the Volvo Ocean Race and the sport as a whole. And most importantly, some great sailing!"

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Graham Tourell

Who he is: With over 30,000 nautical miles under his belt, Graham - or 'Gringo', to his friends - certainly understands just how tough this challenge will be. And, having been Shore Manager of Dongfeng Race Team during that 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, he knows this boat better than anyone.

What he says: "The ocean is unforgiving - it does not take any prisoners."

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Gonzalo Infante

Who he is: Volvo Ocean Race's resident meteorologist, Gonzalo is the man with a plan when it comes to how to best negotiate the tricky weather conditions around the UK. 

What he says: "It's fantastic to be racing to raise money for a great charity in the toughest possible conditions, and with some of the best sailors in the world."

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Matt Knighton

Who he is: Matt completed his first Volvo Ocean Race as OBR in 2014-15, and it couldn't have gone much better - not only did his team, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, scoop the overall trophy and the In-Port Series, but Matt won the Inmarsat Onboard Reporter Award, too!

What he says: "Looking forward to such a great event for charity! Good thing the Southern Ocean was my favorite leg of the Volvo Ocean Race because this might be even colder!"

Follow Matt on Twitter | Instagram

Sam Greenfield

Who he is: Sam has bags of onboard experience having sailed as OBR for Dongfeng Race Team during the 2014-15 edition. He also finished third in the Inmarsat Onboard Reporter Awards, partly in thanks to his pioneering drone flying offshore!

What he says: "I'm massively excited to be part of this epic challenge. I love the Volvo Ocean Race and it's going to be great to see everyone from the race again. Just hoping spring kicks in early in the North Sea!"

Follow Sam on Twitter | Instagram

Dan Markham

Who he is: BBC producer Dan is used to working in unique situations having reported from the front line in Afghanistan and spent months onboard a war ship as part of his storytelling duties. It's his job to work with the OBRs and capture every moment - from euphoric highs, to crushing lows - in this epic challenge.

What he says: "I'm now mentally ready for this challenge and can't wait. There are a few worries, mainly about doing my job and getting good content...! But I haven't stopped smiling the last couple of days. My two children, Isabella and Gracie, are so excited and will be tracking the boat. After the training, I could go and get a small boat and rig it and sail it now - this adventure is already amazing!"

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