16 Aug 2014

Crew battles through injuries to shatter race record by more than a day

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – 16 August 2014:  Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) – Abu Dhabi’s Volvo Ocean Race contesting crew – triumphed in its class, despite injuries, in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race (RB&I) Friday, leading the fleet for most of the 1,800-mile course and finishing with more than a two hour lead on its closest competition.

ADOR now holds the monohull record for the RBIR race with its Azzam Vo65 yacht, the Fastnet monohull record from 2012 with its previous Azzam Vo70, and the Rolex Fastnet Race monohull record from 2011.

Two crew members were hurt during the race – bowman Justin Slattery injured his ribs while trimmer Phil Harmer is suspected to have a broken hand. A hydraulic leak and a malfunctioning water maker also tested the crew’s engineering and maintenance skills, but they battled on regardless.

The first 36 hours saw a neck-and-neck race out of the English Channel and up the Eastern coast of England - with consistent speeds of 20 knots and above. ADOR soon found themselves in a battle with the experienced Spanish team, led by Iker Martinez, and both boats were within 200- 400 metres of each other for most of the day and following night.

Several well-timed sail changes and strong helming skills saw ADOR gain a small lead as its yacht Azzam approached Muckle Flugga, the northernmost point in the British Isles.

From there, navigator Simon Fisher did a superb job of positioning the boat correctly for a shift in the wind which saw the team extend its slender lead to a more comfortable 30 miles 

As the winds eased, the crew encountered more comfortable conditions along Ireland’s West coast but were still being pressed hard by the Spanish.

Rounding the Fastnet rock first, ADOR then led the fleet home - finishing in well ahead of the Spanish and smashing the 2012 Groupama vo70 monohull record by 1 day, 08 hours, 16 minutes and 27 seconds.

“This has probably been harder on the crew than a leg of the Volvo Ocean Race,” said ADOR’s exhausted skipper Ian Walker at the finish. “With so many headlands, sandbanks and other navigational hazards there wasn’t a moment to relax, especially as all the teams were pushing each other so hard. Sifi, our navigator, barely put a foot wrong, and I’m so pleased with the attitude and work rate that the team put in during the race. Azzam is the name of our boat, and Azzam is the attitude of this great team.

“The conditions made for fantastic sailing, and it’s a great reward for both the sailors and the shore team who have worked so hard on our training and preparation, to have our first trophy in the cabinet,” continued Walker.

The win adds to ADOR’s impressive record in the United Kingdom, but for the team it’s primarily a chance to hone their skills before they arrive in Alicante, Spain to begin the Volvo Ocean Race on October, 4th.

“While this has been a great race and a great result, our main focus will always be the Volvo Ocean Race, and our preparation will continue with that goal in mind,” said Walker.




Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction which enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike. The authority manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. TCA Abu Dhabi supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage. A key authority role is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.


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Editors’ Notes

  • The next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will be the 12th running of the 40-year-old event, which started in 1973 as the Whitbread Round the World Race.

  • The race will start on October 4, 2014, day of the first In-Port Race in Alicante, Spain, and finish with one last In-Port Race on June 27, 2015 in Gothenburg, the Swedish home of Volvo.

  • The 38,739-nautical mile route will also include stopovers in Cape Town (South Africa), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sanya (China), Auckland (New Zealand), Itajaí (Brazil), Newport, Rhode Island (USA), Lisbon (Portugal) and Lorient (France). A 24-hour pit-stop in The Hague is scheduled between France and Sweden.

  • The next two editions will be contested in a new high-performance boat, the Volvo Ocean 65, designed by Farr Yacht Design in the United States and built by a consortium of boatyards in the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Switzerland.

  • The new 65-foot (19.8-metre) monohull racing yachts will be strictly One Design and delivered “ready to sail” for the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race. The boats incorporate the latest video, satellite and content production facilities to further enhance the Onboard Reporter programme that has been in place since 2008-09.

  • Six teams have been announced so far. The all-female Team SCA is the first all-women's team to compete in the race since 2001-02. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is once again skippered Britain's twice Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker. Dongfeng Race Team come from China and is backed by Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle. Team Brunel from the Netherlands is skippered by race veteran Bouwe Bekking. Team Alvimedica, the youth challenge will be led by All American Ocean Racing and carry a double Turkey/USA flag. A Spanish entry has been confirmed and the name of the team will be announced shortly.

  • The previous Volvo Ocean Race started in October 2011 in Alicante and was won by Groupama sailing team, skippered by Frenchman Franck Cammas, in July 2012.

  • The previous Volvo Ocean Race started in October 2011 in Alicante and was won by Groupama sailing team, skippered by Frenchman Franck Cammas, in July 2012.


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