Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Back At Sea After Mast Refitting   

 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the team which is contesting the 2011/2012 Volvo Ocean Race on behalf of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), has completed the stepping of the new mast on its Volvo Open 70 yacht Azzam (determination) as it prepares for its full return to the gruelling 39,000 nautical-mile round the world ‘Everest of Sailing’.  

The team has been working round-the-clock in Cape Town, South Africa - the second race stopover - to step the new mast, after the original broke in howling winds and rough seas in leg one off the Spanish coast – forcing it to suspend its first leg bid.  

The team has also installed its new set of standing rigging –a complex process which involved cables being made at its supplier’s factory in Spain before being sent to Cape Town in refrigerated storage. Curing of the rigging was carried out in a special on-site facility before fitting.  

With all primary work completed, Azzam also made her Cape Town sailing debut as the team continued refinement and tuning of the new rigging system in preparation for the points scoring in-port race on December 10th.  

“Azzam is back in the water and looking good for contention come the race restart. There is still more work to be done on refining the mast and rigging but we are committed to living up to Azzam’s determination moniker and be fighting fit for our home leg to Abu Dhabi,” said skipper Ian Walker.  

After dismasting and briefly re-joining the race in leg one, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing made the pained decision to retire to ensure Azzam arrived in Cape Town in time to complete all necessary repair work and refinement. Azzam was subsequently shipped from Lisbon, Portugal to Cape Town in a bid to beat the clock.  

Having analysed all data from the breakage, Walker is confident that the decision was the right one, with Azzam now back sailing.  

“Retiring was one of the hardest decisions we have ever made but looking back it was the right one. It is almost impossible to be 100% sure of the primary cause for the mast failure so we have decided to strengthen our checkstays and change the standing rigging to a replacement diagonal system  (RDS). These modifications needed time, which forced our hand to retire from the first leg and get Azzam to Cape Town as early as possible,” added Walker.  

“This is a long race and there are still many more legs, with many more points to take. The next leg to Abu Dhabi takes us into familiar waters. Whilst there is still a long way until we arrive home, we want to have done everything that can give us an edge to arrive in Abu Dhabi in first place.”  

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing currently sits fourth overall in the Volvo Ocean Race standings, after taking top points in the inaugural in-port race in Alicante, Spain. Two other Volvo Ocean Racing teams – Team Sanya and PUMA Ocean Racing, powered by Berg Propulsion - were also forced to retire from leg one, after suffering hull damage and dismasting.  

The second leg to Abu Dhabi begins in Cape Town on December 11th, with the six-strong race fleet expected to arrive in the UAE capital in early January 2012.  

Abu Dhabi has committed to making its New Year stopover, which runs from 31st December to 14th January, a race highlight, and has built a specially-designed ‘Destination Village’ on the Corniche breakwater to host the race fleet, its sea hardened sailors and the more than 100,000 expected fans. It will open free-of-charge to the public daily from New Year’s Eve.

The highly interactive, maritime-themed village, which is being organised by ADTA, will be packed with activities and entertainment including exhibitions, shows, simulators, hospitality, game zones, restaurants and cafes and shops. The emirate’s historic hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet kicks off this New Year’s Eve with multi-award winning rock band Coldplay taking to a specially-designed concert arena adjacent to the Destination Village. Tickets for the show can be bought at