28 Apr 2015

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 28 April 2015: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) – the emirate’s race-leading entry in the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) - has crossed the equator for the fourth and final time in the current edition of the epic race around the world.


The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed team - which tops the overall standings by seven points - crossed from the southern to the northern hemisphere in the Atlantic Ocean around 600 miles northeast of Recife, Brazil, in the early hours of Tuesday, April 28.


The Abu Dhabi yacht, Azzam - meaning ‘determination’ in Arabic - also marked another significant milestone this week when she crossed her October 2014 Leg 1  track to officially complete a full circumnavigation of the planet.


ADOR skipper Ian Walker said the crew were pleased to be back in the northern hemisphere and rightfully proud of sailing around the world under the United Arab Emirates flag.


“To circumnavigate the world by ocean puts you in an exclusive group of seafarers and one which the whole crew is proud to be a part of,” the two-time Olympic silver medallist said.


“Returning to the north marks a change of pace for the race. From now on the legs become rapid-fire; they get shorter and quicker and there’s a lot at stake before the race end in Sweden. Forty five per cent of the points are ahead of us - we’re in a strong overall race position but remain 100 per cent focused on the Leg 6 finish line in Newport, United States.”


Since starting the race on 11th October 2014, Azzam’s crew has sailed through the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans and visited South Africa, Abu Dhabi, China, New Zealand and Brazil along the way. This reflects a total journey of close to 35,000 nautical miles sailed over 118 sailing days.


UAE Olympic sailor Adil Khalid said he was immensely proud ADOR had made it successfully around the world and was topping the leaderboard as the race entered its final stage.


“The UAE flag has been flown high all around the world,” Khalid said. “I know all our fans back home will be cheering us on as we try to bring the VOR trophy home to Abu Dhabi.”


During their circumnavigation – which started with Leg 1 from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa - , the ADOR sailors have spent more than four months at sea living on freeze-dried food and drinking desalinated water made by machine aboard Azzam.


For rookie VOR sailor and under-30 crewmember Luke Parkinson, racing around the world has been a lifelong dream.


“I am managing to seriously tick off my bucket list!” said the Australian bowman, who on Leg 5 was given the honour of steering around Cape Horn. “To helm Azzam around Cape Horn was one of the best moments of my life. Being a part of this team is pretty special.”


After leading for much of Leg 6 since leaving Brazil in extremely light winds, five days ago ADOR lost out badly when a line of clouds cut Azzam off from fresh new breeze and dumped the Abu Dhabi yacht to the back of the fleet. Since then Walker and his crew have tried to stem the losses and look for a way to get back in touch with the leaders.


“While I’m confident we’ll bounce back, I suspect it will be at least a week before we get any sort of chance to do so,” Walker said. “In the meantime we work non-stop on our speed and we wait and watch how the weather will play out. This leg is not over.”


Azzam has around 3,000 nautical miles to sail to Newport, USAand is expected to reach the Leg 6 finish line there around May 7. Fans of the Abu Dhabi team can follow their progress at volvooceanrace.com/live


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