Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing targets return to the top in the states
ADOR looking to reclaim In-Port Race series lead in Newport, Rhode Island
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) - the emirate’s entry in the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) - will be looking to surge back into top spot on the In-Port Race series leaderboard when competitive action in the round-the-world challenge resumes this weekend in the United States.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed team - led by double Olympic silver medalist Ian Walker - tops the race’s overall standing’s by a margin of six points but sits second by one point to Netherlands crew Team Brunel in the short-course series. In-Port Race scores are used to split a tie in the overall results - so Walker and the ADOR crew will be going all-out for the win on Saturday in Newport, Rhode Island.
Photo caption: ADOR go into the In-Port Race only one point behind the
short course series leaders Team Brunel
"We led the In-Port Race Series for the first four races," - Walker said. "It was only a bad result in Auckland that knocked us off the top. For sure we will be racing hard to get back on top in front of the Newport crowds."
Claiming the win could be a tall order, but the ADOR team need not look far for motivation to secure a big result as towering Slovak ice hockey defenseman Zdeno Chára will climb onboard Azzam as the team’s celebrity guest for the one-hour inshore sprint around Newport Harbor.
At six feet nine inches, the captain of the Boston Bruins National Hockey League (NHL) team, is seven inches taller than ADOR’s tallest sailor, navigator Simon Fisher, the tallest NHL player ever and is widely acknowledged as having the hardest slap shot in the league at 108.8mph (175.1km/h).
"I’m excited to get the chance to race with a winning team like ADOR," - said Chára. "Their performance so far in this race has been remarkable and I’m looking forward to seeing them in action."
UAE Olympian Adil Khalid was looking forward to meeting the NHL superstar.
"It will be great to have a fearsome competitor like Zdeno sail with us," - said Khalid. "I don’t have much experience on ice but I’m hoping we can get him to show us his hardest shot technique before we race."
ADOR started the In-Port Race Series with a narrow second place in Alicante, Spain last October and followed up the following month with a win in Cape Town. A solid third in Abu Dhabi and a hard-fought second in Sanya, China gave Walker’s men a four-point cushion in the ‘sprint’ series.
However, things went awry in New Zealand when Azzam had to settle for sixth, leaving ADOR tied for first overall with Brunel. And when the Netherlands crew won the race in Brazil they went top of the standings by a point over ADOR who finished second.
"There’s no denying it – we would love nothing more than to leave Newport as overall and in-port race series leaders," - said Khalid, who in the 2011-12 edition of the VOR became the first Emirati to take on the epic round-the-world race. "That’s easier said than done, though and we are expecting some tough racing as usual on Saturday."
For more information about Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, please visit www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com.