Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing ahead at halfway stage of Leg 1
Abu Dhabi, UAE – 29th October 2014 - Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR), the emirate’s 2014–15 Volvo Ocean Race contestor, crossed the halfway point of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race in the lead as the fleet race toward the finish line in South Africa. Since setting sail from Alicante, Spain en route to Cape Town, ADOR has consistently led the pack of seven teams – often by several nautical miles.
With an average speed of 20 knots and a 2014-15 Race record of 436 nautical miles sailed within a single 24-hour period, ADOR is currently sailing along the south eastern coast of Brazil before heading south east towards the finish line. .
ADOR fans have been tracking the latest movements and progress of the team’s yacht Azzam, which means ‘determination’ in Arabic, through the ‘Race Tracker’ tab on the official Volvo Ocean Race website: (www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com/en/follow-the-race/race-tracker/) .The feature offers easily accessible information including the speed of the racing fleets, leg completion percentages, wind speed and the distance sailed within 24 hours.
“Our main strategy for this leg was to sail conservatively by sailing with the main fleet rather than breaking away on our own or making any tactical gambles,” said ADOR skipper Ian Walker. “We have been able to stick to this strategy despite some difficult unpredictable weather conditions, which included escaping the clutches of the doldrums during last weekend before heading out into stronger and steadier breezes on the way south towards the equator.”
Despite exiting Gibraltar in fourth place, the team was the first to spot and capitalise on a wind shift soon after, which set them up well to move into the lead as the fleet headed south over the next week. Walker stressed that the team remains confident but understandsthat any lead is tenuous and the crew are taking nothing for granted.
Azzam’s fight for the lead has not been easy, as the lack of normal solid Trade Winds in the North Atlantic Ocean meant the fleet turned south much quicker and much closer to land than normal, which resulted in a lot more manoeuvering and very little sleep for the sailors.
With more than 5,000 miles of sailing ahead of them, one of the key challenges facing the team will be sailing around the light wind zone known as the ‘St. Helena High’ before turning for Cape Town.
The split in the fleet at the Cape Verde Islands was also a key moment and despite some nervous hours where the boats in the south looked to be making big gains, ultimately ADOR’s northerly route turned out to be the right one and Azzam managed to gain significantly. Huge credit was given to navigator Simon Fisher for getting this call correct despite a hard leg so far with very little sleep.