Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing becomes Volvo Ocean Race champions elect
Azzam Takes Unassailable 8-Point Lead to Volvo Ocean Race Finish in Gothenburg, Sweden
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) are champions elect of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race after the emirate’s team built an unassailable lead in the overall standings by finishing the punishing eighth leg from Lisbon, Portugal to Lorient, France in third place.
The result means the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed team will be crowned as winners of the Volvo Ocean Race at the end of the ninth and final leg to Gothenburg in Sweden – regardless of their finishing position.
Skipper Ian Walker – now the first Briton to win the Volvo Ocean Race – was quick to praise the entire ADOR team, both afloat and ashore.
"I can’t thank everyone enough," - Walker said. "We put this team together with a plan to hire the best people we could and to let them do their job. Nothing has derailed that plan and that’s why we’re where we are today. I can’t wait to speak to the people in Abu Dhabi. They give us so much support and I bet they are going crazy about this result."
Photo Caption: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker is a picture of elation
as he is congratulated on the Lorient docks.
ADOR began Leg 8 with a six-point lead over their closest rivals and with a chance of sealing victory if they could beat both Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team by more than one place.
Although the shortest in the race so far at 647 miles, Leg 8 proved to be a brutal challenge for the ADOR sailors who had next to no time for sleep for the entire three and a half days it took to complete.
ADOR left Lisbon in fifth position but were soon back up with the leaders as snakes and ladders conditions prevailed on a predominantly windless first night at sea. Azzam emerged in third place the next day as the fleet tacked along the Portuguese coast in a steadily increasing wind.
Galician sailor Chuny Bermúdez took charge of tactics on the second day as ADOR rounded Cape Finisterre and headed east leading a breakaway group along the northern Spanish coast past Bermúdez’s home near La Coruña.
When the fleet converged again in gale force winds and huge seas in the Bay of Biscay, ADOR was still in third, but only narrowly ahead of Dongfeng and Brunel - making for a nerve-wracking final 150 miles.
Crucially, as ADOR began the last 50 miles to Lorient on the moonlit final night, Spanish crew MAPFRE overtook Brunel to give Walker’s men the extra point they were hoping for.
"It’s been the toughest leg of the race in many ways," - said ADOR navigator Simon Fisher. "Constant sail changes and lots of tacks meant we have hardly slept. The last night was pretty stressful holding off MAPFRE in the dark. But none of that matters now."
Abu Dhabi’s sailors have just three days to rest up before they are back in action for the Lorient In-Port Race on June 14 and the start of the final Leg 9 to Gothenburg, Sweden (via a short pit stop in The Hague, Netherlands) on the evening of June 16.
Despite having put the overall result beyond doubt UAE Olympian Adil Khalid said the Azzam crew would be going all out for a good result in Sunday’s one-hour sprint and on the final leg.
"This is a crew of incredibly competitive people who don’t know how to hold back," - said Khalid who will re-join the ADOR line up for the Lorient In-Port Race and Leg 9 after missing Leg 8 due to sickness. "They want to win every race they sail and the Lorient in-port and final leg will be no different."
More Information about:
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, please visit www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com.
Abu Dhabi, please visit www.visitabudhabi.ae.