ABU DHABI OCEAN RACING AMONGST LEADERS AT HALF WAY STAGE OF LEG 2
Abu Dhabi, UAE, 2nd December 2014 – Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR), the emirate’s 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) entry, recently crossed the halfway point of the second leg from Cape Town, South Africa – engaged in an all-out battle for the lead, as the fleet races toward the finish line at ADOR’s home port of Abu Dhabi.
The recent gains for ADOR in the VOR – the epic, round-the-world sailing challenge - came after fending off overpowering winds of a tropical depression and vast swells in the Indian Ocean, as its yacht Azzam, which means determination, came safely out of the Agulhas Current - one of the most dangerous race sections.
Expected to arrive in the UAE capital on the 14th or 15th of December, ADOR was the first among the fleet to transition into the challenging trade winds close to the equator.
The lead has not come without its own set of challenges, however, as ADOR has dealt with a large tear in a vital headsail as a result of tumultuous seas. Quick wits and reactions helped the crew wrestle the sail to the deck to prevent it from ripping beyond repair, and it was back in use within an impressive two hours.
Azzam also had its steering system pulled from its mountings, rendering the right hand wheel inoperative and causing it to lose control, spin around towards the wind and heel over precariously. The crew got Azzam back under control by using the left hand wheel to get back on a steady course.
Other teams facing similar challenges, have not been so lucky. Earlier this week, Team Vestas Wind ran aground in the Cargados Carajos Shoals - forcing the crew to abandon ship. Luckily no-one onboard was injured, but as ADOR had passed the same spot only hours earlier, skipper Ian Walker and the rest of the crew realised the potential catastrophe they had only just avoided.
"When we passed the shoal, we realised how easy it would be to not notice it, especially at night,” said Walker. “It must have been a terrifying experience for all involved and we wish them a speedy recovery. We all hope the boat can be recovered allowing the team to rejoin the race as soon as possible. Our team remains at their disposal if we can help in any way.”
Walker said that despite the challenges encountered in the 12 days since leaving Cape Town, ADOR has managed to shrug off issues and was the first to make the long-awaited north turn on day five and achieve a lead as it made its way northeastwards against strong winds, intense rain and huge seas.
The Skipper added that a probable split in the fleet and a potential week of light winds meant that ADOR would have to fight much harder to remain within the leading pack.
ADOR fans have been tracking the latest movements and progress of the team’s yacht 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.