HAMPSHIRE round the world racer Ian Walker has bolstered his Volvo Ocean Race crew with a host of Hampshire sailors.
Southampton-based Justin Slattery, Simon Fisher, Phil Harmer and Andrew McLean have all been snapped up by Walker for his third stab at victory in the 40,000-mile race.
Between them they have sailed in 12 past editions of the Volvo Ocean Race, and Slattery and Fisher were key members of Walker's 2011-12 squad.
Harmer sailed with French winners Groupama in the past race while McLean was onboard Team New Zealand.
The four new recruits join Emirati crewman Adil Khalid, Australian Luke Parkinson and onboard reporter Tom Bushell on Walker's Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team.
The final member of the nine-man crew is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
“Phil, Andrew, Simon and Justin each bring unique skills and invaluable experience to the team and I couldn’t be happier to have them aboard,” said Walker.
“We all enjoy sailing together and that can be an important factor in the pressure cooker environment of a nine-month yacht race around the world.”
Hamble's Neal McDonald, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's performance manager, played a key role in selecting the sailors to take on yachting's premier ocean race.
ADOR performance manager Neal McDonald was instrumental in the selection process. “I’m confident we have the right people.
“It’s a solid mix without any big egos.
“This is an international lineup, but the common factor is that they are all very much focused on winning.”
Walker and his team are set to take delivery of their brand new Volvo Ocean 65 yacht in the next few weeks and will then head to Lisbon, Portugal, to train.
The Volvo Ocean Race starts from Alicante, Spain, in November.