As their name implies, the crew members of Uniting Nations hail from four different countries – Craig Hackett (age 30) from New Zealand, Andre Kiers (43) from the Netherlands, Caspar Zafer (39) from Britain (although currently living in LA) and Junho Choi (33) from South Korea.
In case you’re wondering how such a geographically disparate crew managed to find each other, they are a pay-per-seat crew, connected with each other via Race Director Chris Martin. Although they had chatted via Skype in the run-up to the race, the first time they met in person was just three weeks ago, here in Monterey.
Since then they have been strenuously developing team spirit, involving all-night ergos, cooking and eating together, some serious drinking and even more serious ping-pong on the table at their rented house. Craig is the current ping-pong champion, but should watch out for Caspar, who may be planning a late attack just before Race Day.
All this team-building is paying off – in the run-up to an ocean rowing voyage there are many decisions to be made, and so far they’ve had no difficulty in reaching unanimous agreement. (If only the same could be said of their namesake, the United Nations.)
Their boat, Danielle, was one of two boats built for the Noman Race from Barcelona to Ibiza last year by Justin Adkin, who is here in Monterey as our resident boat expert. Yesterday Danielle was the first boat to do the capsize test, as mentioned in yesterday’s article.
The successful test helped boost the crew’s confidence in the boat, and also boosted Caspar’s confidence in his ability to cope with small spaces – not his favourite place. He deliberately chose to go into the smaller bow cabin for the capsize, to put himself to the test. He passed the test with flying colours, so hopefully Andre’s skills as a psychiatric nurse will not be required.
As a commercial diver, Craig is more than familiar than most with the watery parts of our world. He does, though, suffer from seasickness, and expects the first couple of days to be tough going.
Junho Choi, a marketing manager, claims that he was not a brave teenager, but became braver during his military service. He hopes that his adventure will inspire young people from Korea, where adventure is still quite a novel concept, to pursue their own challenges.
As to their strategy for coping with the down days, the men plan to rely on hard-rocking music like Metallica, and humour – of which they fortunately have an unlimited supply.