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Abu Dhabi Ocean racing tops In-Port Race Series leaderboard after newport fightback

posted on 18/05/2015: 1300 views

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, ADOR, the Volvo Ocean Race, VOR, team from the capital of the UAE, surged back to the top of the In-Port Race Series, IPRS, leaderboard, after battling back from last place to finish third in the American leg of the sprint competition.

The result, in Newport, Rhode Island on Saturday, is the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, TCA Abu Dhabi, backed team's 12th podium result from 13 starts in this edition of the race, and means it now tops the IPRS standings as well as top spot on the leaderboard for the main race, an eight-month, nine-leg, 39,000-mile, multi-ocean challenge around the world.

ADOR's UAE sailor, Adil Khalid, said the crew were jubilant after what he said had been a close-fought hour of racing in front of a large and noisy Newport crowd.

"There are few places in the world more closely associated with yacht racing than Newport, it's in people's blood here, so we wanted to put on a good show for the fans," Khalid said.

The course saw the fleet sailing straight lines between the turning markers and there were scarce opportunities to make gains or overtake. On the first leg, disturbed wind flow from yachts nearby slowed the Abu Dhabi yacht Azzam significantly and she rounded the first marker in last place.

However, ADOR skipper Ian Walker and his crew held their nerve and soon after overtook Dutch crew Team Brunel on the second leg, before splitting with the pack on the penultimate leg to leapfrog both Dongfeng Race Team and Team SCA into third place.

Double Olympic silver medallist Walker said he was pleased with the result which came after the Azzam crew staged a fightback from last place at the first rounding marker. With the In-Port race used to split any tie in the overall series, Walker said regaining the series lead and holding an 8-point IPRS advantage over Dongfeng Race Team was an important boost for the team.

"The in-port racing is always tight," Walker said. "But the natural topography in Newport means the racecourse is long and narrow and that forced the yachts even closer together and that made it harder to find passing lanes."

And ADOR's navigator, Simon Fisher, who masterminded the comeback, agreed, saying, "The tactical options were few and far between. We had to stay calm and take our chances when they came. In the end, third is a good result and it puts us back on top in the series by a point."

Sailing on board Azzam as celebrity guest was six foot nine inch professional ice hockey player, Zdeno Chara, captain of the local Boston Bruins team and famous for having the hardest slapshot in the game.

Prior to joining the ADOR crew on board Azzam, a large crowd cheered Chara on as he took on the ADOR crew in a penalty shoot-out using a street hockey puck and goal. All of the sailors hit the target, but Spaniard Chuny Bermudez impressed the most, hitting a shot that had Chara nodding with approval.

Afterwards, Chara, who led ADOR to the dock in the Sailors' Parade, said that racing on Azzam had been a breath-taking experience that he would never forget.

"It was thrilling, all action from start to finish," he said. "Ian and Adil showed me how Azzam worked before the race, but when the start gun went the guys were working flat out the whole time.

"This is a great crew who really work well together so I'm not surprised they are leading the race. I'll be rooting for them now for the rest of the race."

As ever, the ADOR crew had to quickly reset their minds from inshore to offshore racing as they pack their bags for the start of the race's seventh leg across the Atlantic Ocean to Lisbon, Portugal, on Sunday afternoon.

Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Newport, USA to Lisbon, Portugal is scheduled to start at 14:00 ET (22:00 UAE) and ADOR fans can watch all the action live online at – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


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