Tis the season to be jolly but Telefonica’s Neal McDonald has missed one Christmas Day with his family too many to see the bright side any more – this will be his last Volvo Ocean Race because spending Yuletide with his crewmates is just no substitute for being with his wife and two young children.
The 48-year-old Briton who is watch captain for the race leaders has finally caught up with his wife and two children, aged four and two, after 14 days at sea.
He will now spend a few days of precious family time in Abu Dhabi before the leg completion early in the New Year.
But even the 24 hard-won points taken from the first stage to the safe haven port is no consolation for another Christmas away from home and his young family.
“I have done five of these races, this is my sixth, and two non-stop navigations as well,” he told volvooceanrace.com in a heartfelt interview.
“I don’t think I’ll do any more because it totally mucks up your family life the way the programme works now.
“The idea of missing Christmas is just ridiculous so I don’t think I’ll do any more because of what it does to your family.”
After a long distinguished career at sea, McDonald has decided nine months away in a Volvo Open 70 visiting five continents and 10 countries is no longer a temptation he just cannot resist.
McDonald would prefer longer inter-leg stopovers but appreciates that they may not give sponsors much added value.
So there is little respite for the competitors of sailing’s toughest test.
“In Cape Town I only had three days off and we were lucky and got there early,” he said.
“Guys who came afterwards had less.”
His decision means McDonald will be focusing all the more on bringing home Telefonica to the winner’s berth come next July in Galway.
“Does it make me want to win even more? You bet,” he said.