Volvo Ocean Race Challenging For Media Crew Members
Charged with documenting the race from the perpectives of the crew on board, the role of Media Crew Member is often percieved as a glamorous “dream job”.
But throw into the mix a gruelling work schedule alongside tasks including cleaning the bilges, bailing water from the boat and cooking all meals, and suddenly it’s not all fun and games if you’re a Volvo Ocean Race MCM.
While the Volvo Open 70s are in transit from the safe haven port, we caught up with Amory Ross, MCM on PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, about the challenges of life on board Mar Mostro.
volvooceanrace.com: You came into this race quite late. Has it met your expectations so far?
Amory Ross: I didn’t come into this race with any expectations per se but I think it’s been a lot of what I was looking for in a sense of getting out there, finding something new and different. It’s been a really special opportunity. The material the MCMs are given is really impossible to access from any other perspective. We’re certainly hitting on all strides there. We have certainly been one for surprises so far – no shortage of new, off the topic adventures with islands and all kinds of stuff going on. It’s been exciting and the expectations have been a little left behind in terms of new adventures, and something to really sink the teeth into.
VOR: The dismasting on the first leg must have been incredibly difficult to cover as an MCM. Tell us a bit about how you dealt with that.
AR: When it happened I think we were all more surprised than anything else. The nice thing about my situation is that there are 11 guys on the boat and each has a job to do. The sailors understand I am there for moments like that, and they have all been really gracious and welcoming with questions, and forthcoming with honest answers. Thinking about it now, it was tough. It seems like it was just yesterday. With the suddenness of it all, I immediately started recording the footage but not necessarily the reactions, just making sure from a technical standpoint everything was there because those are the moments you don’t get again. You get one try and that’s that. That very quickly shifted to trying to talk to some of the sailors. I’d be lying if I said it was easy, and there were some less than pleased reactions, but that’s my job. I look back at it now and I’m happy I had the gusto to say something because we all look back on it now in a very different light and everyone understands that in the heat of the moment it’s very frustrating for all.
VOR: What are the challenges of being an MCM?
AR: There’s no question that the public’s perception of the job is probably a little glamorous while from the inside it’s anything but. If I had to pick three of the more challenging components they would be:
1. Mentally being ok not helping out. That’s a big one for me. I come from a sailing background and it’s not necessarily that I want to improve the boat’s performance or anything but it’s tough. When times are down and people are struggling a bit I just want to help, I just want to grab something and offer two more hands to the equation. The nice thing is I direct that energy to the food, to the bailing, and just try to stay positive. For me that’s my contribution to the performance of the boat.
2. The scheduling we have is another one. The first leg we had was easy as it was pretty much north-south so there wasn’t much change in daylight hours or time zones. This last leg I had a really hard time with my schedule. I have a schedule for Volvo Ocean Race which runs on UTC, I have our boat time which was Cape Town time, and then I have the changing daylight so people are asking what time food’s coming up, if they are eating dinner when it’s really light or breakfast when it’s really dark. It messes with everyone’s cycle. Trying to regulate my own time and make sure meals are cooked on time, the content’s off the boat on time, making sure I get sleep – it’s a lot to handle.
3. Lastly it’s really hard to find time to rest. My time to work is when it’s sunny and so I find myself up all day, and then at night I’m editing. Sometimes it’s so loud and there’s so much going on. Whether you’re tacking or gybing or stacking your stuff, you really don’t have much rest. I always tend to end these legs pretty darn exhausted. The upside is that we get the opportunity to capture something really special. I will find myself in a bit of a swear-fest hating life, and two hours later I’ll take a picture or get something on video that makes all of it worthwhile. It’s amazing how quickly you forget.