Team Blog – Ian Walker – 5th July 2012

Thursday, 05 July 2012 | by ADOR

It hardly seems possible that we only have one In-Port race left before the end of the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race. For Abu Dhabi it has been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. On reflection Azzam (‘determination’ in Arabic) was the perfect name for our boat. The team have shown a never say die attitude after the disappointment of a mast breakage on leg 1, structural failure on leg 5 but perhaps even worse the realisation that our boat was off the pace. Lacking speed in a race like this undermines everything you do and if you are not a strong team it can undermine the very substance of your team. I think we can take great pride in how we have stuck together and how our results have improved in the latter stages of the race.

Winning the transatlantic leg to Lisbon was nothing short of a miracle and will stand as our greatest achievement in the race. Raising the profile of sailing in Abu Dhabi and inspiring a new generation of young sailors will be the team’s legacy. We now have a new look to the next Volvo Ocean Race with Knut Frostad’s plans for one design, identical, organiser supplied boats. If people thought this race was close, the next one will be even closer. Until now the Volvo Ocean Race has been primarily about the design and build of the boat, whereas the focus will shift to the sailors, management and teamwork. This more than anything else would draw me back to sail a third race.

This will mean more demands on the sailors with people pushing the boats and people even harder. I think it could take a whole new approach as to how to win the race. For sure the bigger budget teams that start early and hire the best people may have an advantage but this time it may not necessarily be a race winning advantage. It has been fantastic to see Groupama’s team work together to raise their game and take the race win but it would be even more refreshing next time to see an even younger, new generation of offshore sailors, perhaps from the Olympic Classes match that achievement.

With a new one design boat maybe they have a chance that would not have been there before. One thing is for sure and that is without major changes to limit the budgets this fantastic race would have died. For that reason alone it is hard for anyone else to disagree with the changes. The Volvo Ocean Race remains one of the ultimate sporting endurance challenges. Right now I feel like I need a decent rest to recharge the batteries before I decide what lies ahead. After three Olympic Games, two America’s Cups and two Volvo Ocean Races I am beginning to feel like the old guard rather than the new. I cannot praise Groupama and all of their team enough for their performance in this race. They are very worthy winners – Bravo Franck!

date: Thursday, 05 July 2012 11:07:58 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

posted in:

Comments [6]

Team Blog – Ian Walker – 3rd July 2012

Tuesday, 03 July 2012 | by ADOR

After a cracking race with Sanya for a day and a half it all came to a crashing halt as we hit a lobster pot in the pitch black off the Aran Isles. We stopped dead in the water and could only watch as Sanya sailed right by three lengths away from us. It took us nearly ten minutes to back down and free ourselves, dropping us to sixth place. As you can imagine this is hugely disappointing for all onboard.

This leg has been a struggle from the start and I have my suspicions we will find some damage to the underside of the boat on inspection in Galway. This is the only explanation we can think of for 500 miles of struggling to reach our target speeds. As always the lads onboard have given their all and just as breaking our mast was not how we intended to start the race, this is not the way any of us would have wished to end our round the world odyssey. I do not wish to dwell on the negatives in this my last blog. I will choose instead to remember our victories and other high points of this race.

Above all I am thankful that we are all returning safely to our loved ones at the end of this adventure. My congratulations go to the victors – Frank, you and your team have done a fantastic job – bravo! My thanks go to all our sponsors and supporters who have followed Azzam and the team. Well done to Adil for completing the journey and becoming such a valued member of the team. Lastly my thanks to our fantastic shore team who work so hard to prepare everything for the sailors to perform their best. I have no doubt Galway will be a fantastic stopover and fortunately we still have an in port race to go on Saturday so we still have another chance to end the race on a high. Thanks for reading!

date: Tuesday, 03 July 2012 11:03:23 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

posted in:

Comments [8]

The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority is not responsible for third party comments on the website.