ABU DHABI- Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) – Abu Dhabi’s Volvo Ocean Race contesting crew – triumphed in its class, despite injuries, in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race (RB&I) Friday, leading the fleet for most of the 1,800-mile course and finishing with more than a two hour lead on its closest competition.
ADOR now holds the monohull record for the RBIR race with its Azzam Vo65 yacht, the Fastnet monohull record from 2012 with its previous Azzam Vo70, and the Rolex Fastnet Race monohull record from 2011.
Two crew members were hurt during the race – bowman Justin Slattery injured his ribs while trimmer Phil Harmer is suspected to have a broken hand. A hydraulic leak and a malfunctioning water maker also tested the crew’s engineering and maintenance skills, but they battled on regardless.
The first 36 hours saw a neck-and-neck race out of the English Channel and up the Eastern coast of England – with consistent speeds of 20 knots and above. ADOR soon found themselves in a battle with the experienced Spanish team, led by Iker Martinez, and both boats were within 200- 400 metres of each other for most of the day and following night.
Several well-timed sail changes and strong helming skills saw ADOR gain a small lead as its yacht Azzam approached Muckle Flugga, the northernmost point in the British Isles.
From there, navigator Simon Fisher did a superb job of positioning the boat correctly for a shift in the wind which saw the team extend its slender lead to a more comfortable 30 miles.
As the winds eased, the crew encountered more comfortable conditions along Ireland’s West coast but were still being pressed hard by the Spanish.
Rounding the Fastnet rock first, ADOR then led the fleet home – finishing in well ahead of the Spanish and smashing the 2012 Groupama vo70 monohull record by 1 day, 08 hours, 16 minutes and 27 seconds.
“This has probably been harder on the crew than a leg of the Volvo Ocean Race,” said ADOR’s exhausted skipper Ian Walker at the finish. “With so many headlands, sandbanks and other navigational hazards there wasn’t a moment to relax, especially as all the teams were pushing each other so hard. Sifi, our navigator, barely put a foot wrong, and I’m so pleased with the attitude and work rate that the team put in during the race. Azzam is the name of our boat, and Azzam is the attitude of this great team.
“The conditions made for fantastic sailing, and it’s a great reward for both the sailors and the shore team who have worked so hard on our training and preparation, to have our first trophy in the cabinet,” continued Walker.
The win adds to ADOR’s impressive record in the United Kingdom, but for the team it’s primarily a chance to hone their skills before they arrive in Alicante, Spain to begin the Volvo Ocean Race on October, 4th.
“While this has been a great race and a great result, our main focus will always be the Volvo Ocean Race, and our preparation will continue with that goal in mind,” said Walker.