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Blue Robinson talks to Leon Sefton, head of Volvo Ocean Race TV, about the increasingly complex role of the onboard reporter
like to watchSeahorse Magazine: What are your expectations of the onboard reporters this time?
Leon Sefton: For the 2017 edition we are looking for multi-media reporters who are also good storytellers. This is a particularly difficult role to fill, given the complexity of skills the onboard reporters need to bring to the position. They have big shoes to fill, so to make the OBR candidate list the new entrants are going to have to be of a quality to knock existing people out of contention – or at the very least be on a par with their predecessors. They must be outstanding photographers, videographers, interviewers, writers, all-round modern media communicators; plus they need to be able to withstand everything that life onboard a VO65 can throw at them.
SH: Quite a big ask…
LS: It is a big ask, so we designed an application video that targeted people who want to see what lies over the horizon. People who work in media, proven storytellers, people who love this race and want to take part in something big and want to help us dig into the minds of sailors who drive themselves relentlessly – obsessively – to win. Deciding who will get the opportunity to join the OBR team is difficult, partly because we have had so many strong applications; the real test is to send the best candidates offshore, to see how they perform and we have already begun this process.
This will involve a sign-off from skippers that the OBRs are safe to go to sea in brutal conditions. While holding the right media credentials, if they also have sea miles under their belt that clearly is a positive, or the ability to impress on us quickly that with the right preparation they can get to grips with the seriousness of ocean racing. We are also mindful how people from outside our world bring a fresh perspective.
SH: And so far… Read on.