Experienced multi-media broadcaster Tom Bushell landed the first onboard reporter position for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 on Wednesday. The sport presenter saw off a long list of challengers for one of the toughest assignments in the media.
Back in January, the race launched a social media campaign to find talented media professionals to take on the role of reporter for each boat in the fleet.
Despite labelling it as “the best - and worst - media job in the world”, the event’s Alicante HQ was flooded with more than 2,000 global applicants.
Rick Deppe, who leads the onboard reporter (OBR) project for the event, has drawn up short lists for each of the teams announced so far. Bushell came up tops for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing after a series of trials on land and at sea overseen by skipper Ian Walker.
“There are not many journalistic jobs around the world when you’re actually doing the event itself with the guys. This is one of the very few, if not the only media job in the sport world, where you are in the thick of it,” said Bushell.
“When you report on football, you can see a player gets angry because he missed a goal but you don’t really live it with him. And that’s the challenge and the key to this job with the Volvo Ocean Race and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – you’re actually living it with them.
“I’m thrilled to be part of the race. I’m looking forward to the good times and in a weird way, I’m looking forward to the tears.”
Bushell, 31, is quitting his prestigious role as Head of Sport of the Arabian Radio Network to take up his new post from February 2014. He has impressive credentials in the media world and is also a sports anchor for the City 7 TV station in the region.
Dubai-based Briton Bushell will begin full training from February ready for the 12th edition of the nine-month, 39,379-mile round-the-world sailing marathon that starts in October 2014.
“We are convinced Tom has the right skills and personality to take on this most demanding role,” said Volvo Ocean Race communications director Jon Bramley.
“It’s like being a war correspondent with no chance of escaping the firing line until you reach dry land. That’s why we described it as being the best – and worst – media job in the world. But what an assignment!”
The OBRs have been challenged to show the rest of the world what life is really like on the Volvo Ocean 65s and how the men and women who sail them manage to produce such incredible performances in life-threatening conditions day in day out for nine months.
“These sailors have tended in the past to let their seamanship do the talking. This time, we want to get under their skin and speak about their doubts, fears and setbacks as well as their moments of glory,” added Bramley.
“We want to see them as real, fallible humans who are doing something that takes years of experience and talent to achieve and for that we need skilled media professionals to tell the full story of their existence on board these cramped 65-feet ocean racing machines.”
Each onboard reporter will provide daily video, audio, photograph and text feeds to help the race build its extensive fan-base beyond the traditional core audiences through television, digital, social media, radio, newspapers and magazines. They are not allowed to sail the boat in any way.
In the last two editions, each boat carried a man on board to provide media content but it was decided at the end of the 2011-12 race to lift the qualifying standard to ensure only proven professionals would be eligible as OBR.
So far, four teams have been announced for the 2014-15 edition: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team SCA, Dongfeng Race Team and Team Brunel.
Follow news of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team and hear the latest on the Abu Dhabi stopover for the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race by following on Facebook, on Twitter or online at www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com.