Volvo Race: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing finish in style

Volvo Race: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing finish in style

ADOR skipper Ian Walker and his crew only fought their way out of last place on the penultimate leg to close out the ten-race series by a point.

By James Jose - Senior Reporter

Published: Mon 29 Jun 2015, 1:10 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:12 PM

Aref Al Awani, Secretary General of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, and ADOR’s Adil Khalid celebrate with Swedish fans in Gothenburg on Saturday. — Supplied photo

Abu Dhabi — After having put the finishing touches to their title triumph less than a week ago, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) completed an astonishing triple in the Volvo Ocean Race in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Saturday.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed team, clinched the In-Port Race Series (IPRS) title to and the IWC Schaffhausen 24-hour Speed Record Challenge trophy with a sixth place in the Swedish heat of the short course competition in Gothenburg.

The result saw ADOR top the final IPRS standings by a margin of one point, adding the ‘sprint series’ accolade to the overall Race trophy the team won earlier in the week.

UAE sailor Adil Khalid — the first Arab sailor to win the Volvo Ocean Race — said that adding the In-Port Race Series to the ADOR trophy haul was the perfect way to end nine-months of competitive action.

“Winning the In-Port Race Series puts the cherry on top of the cake,” Khalid said. “Becoming the first team to pull off this ‘clean sweep’ is a marvelous achievement for the UAE,” added the jubilant Emirati.

And on board for the triumph, Swedish football superstar Freddie Ljungberg had a front-row seat for all the action, sailing with ADOR for the one-hour race, which the Abu Dhabi team began with a six-point advantage. The narrow course on Gothenburg’s Göta älv waterway saw super-light winds, and despite only needing a sixth place finish or better to take the IPRS title, ADOR skipper Ian Walker and his crew only fought their way out of last place on the penultimate leg to close out the ten-race series by a point.

“It was far closer than we wanted it to be today,” said Walker, who was competing against his old sailing friend in the form of the ex-King of Spain, HM Juan Carlos I, who joined the MAPFRE team for the IPR race.

“But to pull off a clean sweep of the overall, 24-hour record and now the In-Port Series is extremely satisfying,” added Walker.

And Sultan al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director of TCA Abu Dhabi, who travelled to Gothenburg to watch the conclusion of this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, was delighted with the result.

“I am very happy to have been here to witness Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing win the In Port Race, which secured an unprecedented haul of trophies for our team,” said Al Dhaheri. “The team has proudly represented our country as we competed against the best sailors in the world, and we have strengthened our position as a sailing nation in front of a global audience. I hope all the ADOR fans here, back in Abu Dhabi, as an official destination partner, and around the world join me in congratulating all the members of our victorious team,” Al Dhaheri added.

With winds that never topped five knots throughout the one-hour heat and strong current, there was lots of place-changing on the first leg which saw Azzam dumped from third to seventh place at the first turning marker.

Walker and his men stayed focused however and on the last but one leg of the shortened course they eased into sixth place — a position they held on comfortably to the finish line. 

And Ljungberg, who captained Sweden and won 75 international caps, and who was part of ‘The Invincibles’ Arsenal side that went 49 games unbeaten in the 2003/04 season, was thrilled with the experience. “Watching the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in action was utterly intense!” he said. “They work in perfect harmony and the closeness of the racing was enormous fun. It was great to be onboard with the lads as they claimed another trophy – and I know how they must be feeling after that big win!”

ADOR earned the IWC Schaffhausen 24-hour Speed Record Challenge title with an unsurpassed run of 550.82 nautical miles approaching Cape Horn on Leg 5 from New Zealand to Brazil.

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