Former Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher enjoyed what he described as a “unique experience” as 18th Man on board the Emirates Team New Zealand boat during their victory over Italy’s +39 Challenge in the latest round of America’s Cup races in Valencia on Wednesday.
Schumacher, invited to take part in the race by the ETNZ team’s official watch partner Omega, even took the wheel of the boat at one stage as the team made its way to the start of their Louis Vuitton Round-Robin race. “It’s kind of a unique experience, in that you participate in a race,” said Schumacher of his guest appearance. “If you think, in car racing terms it just doesn’t happen so in that respect it was unique.”
In other respects Schumacher, who chatted at length with current skipper and fellow Omega ambassador Dean Barker at the ETNZ base before boarding, found similarities between the world of Formula 1, from which he has just retired, and that of top-level sailing. “I particularly enjoyed the team spirit,” he said afterwards, “seeing how many people there are working behind the scenes, it’s very comparable to Formula 1 in that respect.”
Schumacher, who lives near Geneva, revealed that his interest in the America’s Cup was something he has developed since taking up residence in his adopted country. “I’ve started to follow the America’s Cup particularly since I’ve been living in Switzerland,” he said. “We have the Alinghi team which won it last time, and it was a big hype in Switzerland. And now, having seen a little inside the event, it makes it even more interesting than just watching it from a TV perspective.”
As to his own future Schumacher plans to remain in touch with the Formula 1 world. “I don’t really have major plans,” he said. “I’m keeping my consultancy base with Ferrari, and I will probably go to the Barcelona grand prix to get a live perspective of how the team works, but so far everything is going very smoothly. I do quite a bit of go-karting and I still play soccer, and otherwise I’ll just stick with the family and enjoy life as much as I can.”
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