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  Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
Skipper carries the can

GBR Challenge skipper Ian Walker
Walker is the general

The skipper is like the player-manager in a football team. He is the spokesperson and ultimately carries the can.

Traditionally the skipper was responsible for safety but in terms of racing he has the final say when key decisions need to be made on performance or strategy. The most important element in the role is to gain and earn the respect of the people in your team.

You are the general of the army and they have got to want to go to battle with you and for you.

You need strong leadership skills and the ability to make decisions, sometimes ones that people do not necessarily want to hear.

As skipper I set the tone for boat. I am a competitive guy and I get excited and I hate to lose.

We are all desperate to do well and sometimes voices get raised - just to show a level of urgency.

This leads to some pretty salty language which is a bit of a sailor's thing - we are usually out there on the ocean on our own.

But we are trying to tone this down because we know the cameras and microphones will be on us when racing starts.

It is important for me to remember that there is time for being excited and getting people fired up and putting in extra energy.

But there is also time when things need calming down.

So it is vital that you are confident and can exude an air of calmness at key moments in race.

But above all I am one of the guys. Everyone has got a nickname and I am no exception.

Mine is "Luigi" after I spent some time sailing in Italy.

But we have all sailed with or for virtually everyone else on the boat in the past so we go a long way back and the respect is mutual all round.

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Ian Walker
"As skipper I set the tone for the boat"
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