Shore crew member Nick Burridge to join CAMPER after bowman injured
Nick Burridge has been an unapologetic tourist during his stay in Miami, kiteboarding during the day and pigging out on chicken wings at night.
And who can blame him? Burridge, a 30-year-old Kiwi, is about to cross the Atlantic in a 70-foot sailboat with 10 smelly guys, surviving on nothing but desalinated water and freeze-dried dinners.
The first few days in port are usually dog-eared for rest and relaxation for competitors in the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race. Yet Burridge has not had much down time.
In addition to catching waves and carbo-loading, he has been doing his day job: making sure the mast of Team CAMPER’s 70-foot racer is in tip-top shape when the race resumes this weekend.
Until last week, Burridge was just another CAMPER shore crew member, playing a supporting (and largely anonymous) role on the boat’s maintenance and repair squad. But with CAMPER racing team member Mike Pammenter on bed rest with a bulging disk in his back, Burridge is now pulling double duty: repairing the boat while dry-docked, and watching its bow while at sea.
"There were a lot of rumors there would be a change, but I got the official word a few days ago,” said Burridge, a lifelong sailor from Auckland, New Zealand. “It sure changed my plans. I’ve sailed across the Pacific before, but nothing can prepare me for what I’m about to go through.”
When it became clear that CAMPER, currently in third place in the Volvo standings but within striking distance of the lead, would be without Pammenter for at least the Miami-to-Lisbon (Portugal) leg, the team could have hired a career yachtsman to take his place.
Instead of flash, it chose familiarity. Burridge was the backup plan all along, and CAMPER leadership didn’t waver when it came time to make a replacement.
"Bringing in a rock star from the outside, there might be a chemistry issue,” said Neil Cox, CAMPER’S shore manager. “But this will be a very simple transition. Although I told him he’s not a superstar until Wednesday.”
Wednesday is when the on-board crew’s shore leave ends, and when Burridge’s role will begin to change. Until then, Cox is still his boss, and egos are irrelevant.
For Burridge, it’s a familiar spot. He has worked on some of New Zealand’s top yachts, including Alfa Romeo. Since 2009, Burridge has served as a rigger for Emirates New Zealand, although this is his first go-round in the Volvo Ocean Race.
A rugby player in high school, Burridge has always been more comfortable in the scrum than on the sidelines. What’s true on the pitch is doubly true on the water. He has an impressive sailing résumé, working in the past with, among others, CAMPER teammates Rob Salthouse and Stuart Bannatyne, Burridge said.
And with a bit of candor, Burridge admits his new role is the one he wanted all along — although not necessarily with CAMPER. Burridge thought he had done enough to earn a sailing spot in the Volvo, but with just six boats contending this iteration, there are only a few dozen such jobs in the world.
Now, through hard work and a bit of luck, he will get his chance. Burridge’s on-board responsibilities will include hoisting, dropping and controlling the sails. It’s unclear when Pammenter will be cleared to return, but even if Burridge’s stint is just for the next leg, it will serve as a real-world audition for the future.
"It’s a dream come true,” he said.
• Leslie Osborne went to bed Saturday night in Washington, woke up three hours later for a flight to Miami, and had already finished leading a soccer-related fitness class at the Volvo Race Village before lunch.
But the former U.S. national team member and current midfielder for the Boston Breakers knows she was still better rested than the sailors.
But anyone who questions Osborne’s toughness isn’t the least bit familiar with her career. To date, she has seriously injured both ankles, torn an ACL and fractured a collarbone. Well aware her soccer-playing days are waning, Osborne, 28, uses events like Sunday’s workout class — appearing on behalf of PUMA — to build her brand for whenever retirement comes.
While she didn’t make the 2012 Olympic team, Osborne’s going to London anyway. She and soccer personality/model Temryss Lane are booked to shoot a reality TV show that will appear online.
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