Team Blog - Ian Walker - 23 October 2011

Sunday, 23 October 2011 | by ADOR

What a crazy week it has been so far! After a couple of lovely days off at home with my family it has been one of the busiest weeks of the program.

We have been practicing our inshore sailing every day, plus we have had to complete our last 110 mile qualification passage which we did Monday night.

Our chief sail designer JB has been here from the US to look at our final sail designs for the race as has Chris Bedford our weather expert.

Whenever we haven’t been sailing it has been briefings, debriefs, weather lessons or sail discussions. What with an increasing amount of media to deal with too, it is just 24/7.

Fortunately things should calm down now for the next week. Azzam is out of the water for the underside of the hull to have its final ‘tickle up’ (sanding and polishing) as well as a re-spray of the foredeck to improve the non-slip and make it safer for the crew to work up there. The mast is on the ground for its final checks. Whilst the whole project has felt like a race against time for the last year, the reality is the race for real starts in one week’s time.

date: Sunday, 23 October 2011 11:32:44 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog - Ian Walker - 8th October 2011

Saturday, 08 October 2011 | by ADOR

As we sit just a few hundred metres to leeward of Groupama, you can imagine the intensity as the sun rises and the wind continues to shift.

However, the chat on board is still hovering around the rugby. Wales and Ireland are playing this morning, and there are a few friendly discussions going on amongst the boys. One of whom, is Irish. Every ten minutes Jules or I is asked to check our computer – not for the latest weather updates, but for the latest scores.

Rugby aside, Azzam and the crew on board are going well. It has been very shifty this morning so far, and a bit frustrating at times to be honest. Early last night we were hoping for a strong right shift that was forecasted to come through, but never ended up materialisng. So we have been pushing hard to regain traction on the lead boats.

And there it is; the email from Race HQ with the Rugby scores. Wales is beating Ireland. I’m told it’s my duty to wake Justin Slattery up from his second hour of sleep in 24 hours and tell him to come on deck so he can heckled!

date: Saturday, 08 October 2011 09:03:46 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog - Ian Walker - 4th October 2011

Tuesday, 04 October 2011 | by ADOR

After a fairly windy and bumpy slog upwind to Alicante the team are settling in to their new home well. We encountered 35 knot headwinds in the Straits of Gibraltar and I was relieved the boat came through unscathed.

This was a final offshore test before the practice race or ‘leg zero’ as it is called which starts this Friday. Arriving in Alicante was very exciting as we got to see all our competitors’ boats for the first time. It is amazing how different the three new hull shapes from the three different design offices are. I am desperate to see how we perform and what everyone’s sails will look like.

In the next week all will be revealed. Our shore team broke down our base in Cascais in record time and sent it on its way to Cape Town. Meanwhile an advanced party started setting everything up in Alicante. It is incredible to think that in five days we have built the shore base, taken the mast down, replaced the standing rigging, broken down the keel to add some more weight and depth to the bulb, put it all back together and successfully passed some key measurement tests before re-stepping the rig.

At the same time a host of other jobs are being completed onboard so that we are well and truly ready to race. Leg zero starts in three days and will consist of a 360 mile trip to Palma, Majorca and back. The result is not important in the long run but the performance is. All eyes will be on us for sure and there is a lot at stake.

date: Tuesday, 04 October 2011 11:07:56 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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