05 Nov 2014

Abu Dhabi, UAE – 5th November 2014 - Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR), the emirate’s 2014–2015 Volvo Ocean Race entrant, made it through a nerve-wrackingly tense run-in to the finish line to win Leg 1 of the round-the-world race from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa on Wednesday, 5th November 2014.

Ripping across the water at speeds up to 30 knots in the South Atlantic through most of the leg's last section ADOR, onboard its yacht Azzam, survived a scare with the finish line in sight, as a huge drop in wind allowed the Chinese team Dongfeng to come within a single nautical mile of the leaders.

But skipper Ian Walker and crew managed to hold on and battle through the less-than perfect conditions, to cross the finish line ahead of their rivals to take the victory. During the highly competitive section of Leg 1, both teams were clocking up well over 500 miles of 24 hours intervals.

ADOR’s Victorious skipper Ian Walker said, "I feel quite emotional, actually. I didn't think I would be, but those last couple of hours... Dongfeng threw everything at us.”

"We've had people right on our heels for the last ten days or so and I have to say, I really must congratulate Dongfeng for an absolutely fantastic performance.”

"Before the start of the race I said 'don't underestimate Dongfeng' and it seems I was right. And they are only going to get better - so we are going to have our work cut out for us, that's for sure.

"The problem is we knew what Cape Town is like; it's always chaotic trying to get round Table Mountain, so we knew that even a 10 mile lead might not be enough, so we're very grateful to get away with it in the end!"

The result brought immediate praise from Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which is behind the emirate’s Volvo Ocean Race campaign.

To mark the occasion, Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authoritysaid, “I followed this opening Leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 with fascination. It has been a tremendous contest from the very beginning in Alicante more than 24days ago, and I, like the team’s international and local fans, am so very proud that Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has emerged victorious. The team has represented Abu Dhabi with distinction, braving incredibly tough conditions in pursuit of excellence.

“ADOR led for much of this amazing Leg to South Africa, and that’s down to the individual skills of the crew combined with a collective will to win. I hope as many people as possible here in the emirate and across the UAE were cheering Azzam over the finish line in Cape Town.

“I hope the rest of the VOR is just as enthralling in the coming months and certainly we’re planning a heroes’ homecoming for ADOR and the other teams for their stopover arrival next month.”

Adil Khalid, ADOR’s Emirati crew member and the only sailor in the race is already looking to repeat the victory in Leg 2 when the fleet will sail from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.

“We are ecstatic to come in first in Leg 1 and now our entire focus is to make the UAE proud in our efforts to replicate our success on the journey to Abu Dhabi. We are all looking forward to seeing our family and friends in Abu Dhabi, and we can’t wait to get there.”

The race fleet is expected in Abu Dhabi in the middle of December when they will be given a warm welcome to their berth at a purpose-built destination village on the UAE capital’s Corniche which will be the focus of the city’s hosting of the race. The village, which will open on December 12, will be alive with entertainment, sailing and watersports and is expected to receive more than 100,000 visitors until the fleet sets sail on Leg 3 for China on January 3.

ADOR fans have been following the live action through the ‘Race Tracker’ tab on the official Volvo Ocean Race website: (www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com/en/follow-the-race/race-tracker/).The feature offers up-to-date information including the speed of the racing fleets, leg completion percentages, wind speed and the distance sailed within 24 hours.


For more information about Abu Dhabi’s 2014/15 VOR Stopover please go to www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com or visit our Facebook and Twitter pages at www.facebook.com/AbuDhabiOceanRacing and @ADORlog. For official race finish times, go to: http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/presszone/en/170_Leg-1-to-Cape-Town-Finish-Times.html

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