ABU DHABI- A large UAE flag was hoisted yesterday in Cowes in the UK from the towering black carbon mast of Azzam, the Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yacht of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) to mark the Abu Dhabi-backed squad’s second Volvo Ocean Race campaign.
ADOR is backed by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which also mounted a destination ‘Oasis’ in the Cowes Yacht Haven with falcons, henna and Arabic coffee winning over crowds.
“There’s no doubt we created a buzz here in Cowes and people are asking more questions about Abu Dhabi, its watersports offering and about our three weeks Volvo Ocean Race stopover which starts in the middle of December,” said Nabeel Al Zarouni, Country Manager UK, TCA Abu Dhabi.
ADOR’s skipper, British double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker introduced the Cowes crowd to the eight sailors and one on board reporter he has handpicked to race around the world with him in the Volvo Ocean Race which starts in Alicante, Spain this October.
Walker said he was proud of the way the team had bonded into a cohesive force in the six months since it came together in nearby Abu Dhabi in February.
“When you are picking a team for a 39,000 mile nine month around the world yacht race you need to pick talented sailors but you also need to have people who won’t crumble when times get tough – which they inevitably will,” Walker said.
“I am very pleased with where we have got to as a crew and I’m feeling as confident as I can ever remember being this close to a major event.”
The presentation of Azzam and her crew at Cowes Week came on the eve of the team’s participation in the Artemis Challenge charity race on Thursday and three days before they take on four other Volvo Ocean Race teams in the gruelling week long, 1800 mile Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race.