Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Sets Sail on Epic Volvo Ocean Race Challenge
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – 11th October 2014:Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR), the emirate’s entry into the Volvo Ocean Race 2014–15, has set sail from Alicante, Spain on the opening Leg to Cape Town, South Africa.
ADOR put to sea shortly after midday local time after an emotional dockside farewell to family and friends. An enormous crowd of spectators thronging the quayside in the Alicante Race Village gave a huge roar of support as skipper Ian Walker gave a final wave goodbye and eased the ADOR yacht, Azzam, away from the dock.
The 6,487 nautical-mile passage is expected to take the fleet of seven identical 65-foot ocean racing yachts around three weeks to complete, with an estimated arrival in Cape Town around November 3.
The opening Leg - the second longest in the nine-stopover, around-the-world race and among the most challenging – will take the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) backed Azzam, and the rest of the fleet, out of the Mediterranean Sea via the Straits of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic Ocean.
On the way to South Africa the crews must cross the Equator and round the island of Fernando de Noronha close to the coast of Brazil before pointing their bows towards Cape Town.
“This is the culmination of years of planning,” said ADOR skipper and British double Olympic silver medallist Walker on the dock prior to leaving. “We have trained hard and done our homework and I couldn’t ask for a better crew to take on this challenge with. Our yacht is named after the Arabic for determination and every single ADOR sailor is focused on living up to that quality.”
With the teams racing in identical one-design yachts, Walker said he would adopt a percentage strategy during the race.
“Just like in the Olympics, when you’re racing one design you don’t have to win every race of the series to take the gold,” he said. “Our aim is to minimise risk and avoid any bad scores – if we can finish in the top three on every leg we’ll be in good shape by the end of the race.”
United Arab Emirates’ sailor Adil Khalid – who in 2011-12 became the first Emirati to complete the race – said that morale was high among the crew as they embarked on the first leg.
“We are fitter and stronger than we’ve ever been and Azzam is in perfect condition,” Khalid said. “The time for talking is over it’s now time for action.
“We’ll be working hard and sailing fast to give the fans worldwide and everyone back in Abu Dhabi and the UAE something to cheer about when we get to Cape Town.”
ADOR put up a good performance during the inshore section of the course rounding the Alicante exit marker buoy in second place, just 20 seconds behind the Dutch yacht Team Brunel.
A forecast of light and shifty winds in the Mediterranean overnight means ADOR could be in for a sleepless night as it battles to consolidate its position in the leading pack.
Latest estimates suggest the fleet will take between 42 and 48 hours to reach the exit to the Mediterranean at Gibraltar.
ADOR fans can follow the team’s progress via the tracker on the official race website at www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com/en/follow-the-race/race-tracker/