Volvo Ocean Race: Abu Dhabi wants it all

Published on May 15th, 2015

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) will be looking to surge back into top spot on the In-Port Race series leaderboard when competitive action in the Volvo Ocean Race resumes this weekend in Newport, RI.

Led by double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, the team 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 on Narragansett Bay for the race win on Saturday, May 16.

“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 defenceman Zdeno Chára will climb onboard Azzam as the team’s celebrity guest for the one-hour inshore sprint around Newport Harbour.

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 slapshot 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.”

And UAE Olympian Adil Khalid was looking forward to meeting the NHL superstar, saying: “It will be great to have a fearsome competitor like Zdeno sail with us. 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.”

The Newport In-Port Race is scheduled to start at 14:00 ET on Saturday, with the seventh leg of the race from Newport to Lisbon, Portugal to start on Sunday. Watch action live online at volvooceanrace.com/live.

Source: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Roman

Race websiteTrackingScoreboardVideos

Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven teams will be scoring points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams will compete in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition – the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series.

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