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ADOR assured of final glory in Gothenburg

ADOR assured of final glory in Gothenburg

Skipper Walker eyes podium as his team leads by 8 points

Published: Thu 18 Jun 2015, 2:03 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:11 PM

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing docks out as Azzam starts the final Leg from Lorient to Gothenburg. — Supplied photo

Abu Dhabi — Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) – the emirate’s entry in the Volvo Ocean Race — has set off from Lorient, France, on the ninth and final leg of the ‘round the world marathon’ assured of overall victory in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed team cannot be caught, irrespective of the final leg result, after pulling out an eight-point lead on the fleet by the time the seven-boat fleet arrived in Lorient on Leg 8.

The Abu Dhabi yacht was in fifth place at the Lorient leaving mark.

However, ADOR skipper Ian Walker said the crew of Azzam would still be aiming for a podium result for the finale of the 39,000 nautical-mile offshore challenge.

“Even if we retired from the last leg we couldn’t be beaten,” Walker said. “But we all want to finish the race in style so we will race to Sweden with all our normal intensity.”

Leg 9’s 1,600 nautical-mile course is punctuated by a no-points pit stop at Scheveningen in The Hague, where the crews will be able to make repairs and leave their yachts but not receive any outside assistance.

The second section of Leg 9 begins on June 20 when the yachts will start in the same order and time difference as they arrived.

The course takes the yachts through the English Channel between England and France – an area English double Olympic silver medallist Walker and his navigator, fellow-Englishman Simon Fisher know better than most. “Ian and I have both sailed plenty of miles in the Channel,” said Fisher. “It’s a busy place with lots of shipping to dodge and plenty of complex tides, so we will need to stay sharp.”

After exiting the English Channel at the French port of Calais the yachts will pick their way along the coastlines of Belgium, and the Netherlands on the way to the Hague. After restarting, they race along the German and Danish coasts before rounding Denmark’s most northerly headland at Skagen – just 528 miles from the Arctic Circle and the highest latitude in the entire circumnavigation - and head for Gothenburg.

Emirati sailor Adil Khalid, who returns to the Azzam line-up for the race’s final leg, said the whole crew would be giving everything they have for a podium place in Gothenburg.

“This may be the last time we will race together offshore for a while,” he said. “So we all want to make it count with a good finish to kick off the celebrations in Sweden and in Abu Dhabi.”

The leading yachts are expected to reach the pit stop at The Hague on June 19 and finish in Gothenburg on June 22. ADOR fans can track Azzam live on Leg 9 from start to finish at volvooceanrace.com/live.

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