One of Britain’s leading sailors, Ian Walker, winner of two Olympic silver medals and the skipper of Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) contender Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, was named the newest Laureus Ambassador in Cape Town over the weekend.
A week after skippering his team to victory in the first VOR leg from Spain to South Africa, Walker welcomed a group of young people from Laureus-supported community projects in Cape Town on board ADOR’s yacht Azzam to meet the crew and tour the boatyard.
The youngsters then watched from the waterfront as Azzam, which is sponsored by Laureus Global Partner IWC Schaffhausen, took part in the Cape Town In-Port race.
Ian Walker said: “It’s a great honour to be asked to be a Laureus Ambassador and I was delighted that we were able to get the youngsters along from Laureus projects in Cape Town to meet the crew. Yachting depends on teamwork and harmony among the crew and I was able to explain that to the kids. That’s why sport is a great way of teaching young people life skills. I am really looking forward to taking part in more activities for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.”
The youngsters who toured Azzam came from five projects in Cape Town, which are supported by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation: Great Commission United; Grassroots Soccer; Indigo Youth Movement; Vuka Rugby and Waves for Change.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Walker and sailing partner John Merricks took the silver medal in the 470 class. Three years later Walker teamed up with fellow Brit Mark Covell and at the Sydney 2000 Games the pair won the silver in the Star class.
Walker has also been involved in two America’s Cup campaigns. When Britain launched its first bid for the America’s Cup for 14 years, Walker was named as skipper, but lost to US yacht Stars and Stripes in the quarter-finals of the 2003 qualifying competition. For the 2007 America’s Cup, he joined fellow Olympic medallist Iain Percy as the tactician of the Italian team +39.
Walker is a trustee of the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST), created following the death of his first Olympic partner in a road accident. JMST provides funding and support to young sailors and youth sailing organisations to help them achieve their goals.
Since its inception Laureus has raised over €60 million to improve the lives of millions of young people and currently supports more than 150 community sports projects in 34 countries.