Sunday, March 23, 2014

Passion for the sea

Knut Frostad is a Norwegian sailor, a former Olympian, Volvo Ocean Race skipper and motivational speaker.
He now runs the world's premier round the world sailing race.
Here Knut talks about his fascination with the sea, with danger, and with the Volvo Ocean Race.

"Everyone has a responsibility to identify what really triggers you in life"

From VolvoOceanRace by Austin Wong

“This race is so much more than a sailing event” according to Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad.
But what does that mean to a non-sailor like me?
I came to the race with no experience of sailing and yet it has completely sucked me into a world of adventure, personalities, and at-the-limits action.
I wondered what the hell happened to me - so I asked Knut.

I have an embarrassing confession.
I’ve worked for the Volvo Ocean Race for almost two years, and yet I don’t sail.
Can’t sail.
I get seasick and the only knot I can tie is the one that fastens my shoelaces.
Despite this I have fallen in love with this event.

The man sitting opposite me knows a thing or two about sailing.
Knut Frostad is the CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, a former Olympian, and a two-time skipper in this race; a man with a rich history. In short he’s the kind of guy I always want to know more about.

I made this video with Knut attempting to get inside his passion for the sea and sailing.
His interview is thoughtful, insightful, and going back to that word again – passionate.
Perhaps he can help me to understand the reasons I’ve become so invested in this event.
What is the mysterious appeal of the Volvo Ocean Race?

“We have a very real event where people risk their lives, it’s very serious. And we bind countries together. We don’t solve world problems, but we are creating something that people care about beyond money, and status and a lot of other things.
“In some extreme sports today you can do it just to get exposure. But this race is way too long and way too hard, and way too risky to do it for exposure. After 10 days at sea you don’t even know if people are watching you. And that’s what’s special about this race, that people do it for real. They do it because they mean it.”
And though the race is a top sporting competition and a massive commercial operation, the fuel that really drives the Volvo Ocean Race is passion.
That was what hooked me.
Passion is authentic, and to me, passion is one of Knut’s defining qualities.
I ask if he feels that being the driving passion behind this race can be a burden.
“First of all I think it’s not just me - people have passion throughout the race, but it can be for different pieces of the puzzle, and to me it’s much more about defining the real things that matter, whether that’s sailing or not. What I’m trying to do with this race is to translate it in a way so that people feel that it matters.
“Sometimes maybe I carry the sailing side and the responsibility for making people enthusiastic about it, but at the same time I’ve seen so many people being enthusiastic about this event and not taking it from the sailing angle. They never became fans of sailing as such, but they became huge fans of this race and what it does to people. And for me that is what this race is about. This race is a sailing event, but it’s so much more. It’s about a group of people sharing passion, travelling around the world doing cool stuff.”
And indeed the Volvo is full of ‘cool stuff’, but it’s also a monumental task to put together.
To Knut, this is a key aspect of its appeal.
“The reason I like this event is because I know it’s so rewarding. All the cities, all the millions of people, all kinds of crises all the way. The race is very difficult, and very hard, and that’s why you do it.
“The Mount Everest we’re trying to climb is that we start from zero every race and then we try to get the world’s attention, and keep all the sponsors happy, 56 stakeholders and 11 cities. To me it’s more challenging than even sailing it.”
I feel I’m closer now to understanding the essence why I love this event.
The race is an authentic challenge for both body and spirit.
I’m curious about one more thing - Knut is a man who exudes easygoing confidence, but surely he must have his down days?
“It changes, every day for me as anyone else.” he laughs.
“But everyone has a responsibility to identify what really triggers you in life.
“There are so many jobs that are easy, and they’re so unrewarding. Something that’s very special to this event is that when you’ve done a race, you can look back and know you played a big role in it. And I think every person in this race really does. You can see yourself in the event.”

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