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Emiratis claim maiden victory

posted on 26/04/2011: 1830 views



Adil Khalid and Butti Al Muhairi, the Emirati stars of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, clinched their first competitive offshore racing victory in the San Fernando Race on Saturday.

The completion of the biennial 488 nautical mile TP52 sailing regatta from Hong Kong to the northern Philippines enabled the Emirati duo to top up their log-book as they up the tempo for training towards the 2011/12 international Volvo Ocean Race.

Sailing aboard the TP53 ‘Freefire' owned by Hong Kong businessman Sam Chan, the guest crew — led by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker — put in an impressive performance to take line honours after a compelling wire-to-wire race, finishing in 61 hours 53 minutes — nearly an hour ahead of the chasing pack.

With just six months to go until the start of the 39,000 nautical mile, nine-month round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, the San Fernando test was a timely boost for Khalid and Al Muhairi, as they prepare to make history as the first Emiratis to compete in an event dubbed ‘the Everest of sailing'. "To win was such an amazing feeling," said 22-year-old Khalid, who represented the UAE in both the Olympic and Asian Games.

"This was a difficult race and we had to deal with wind issues so that was good practice. As our first competitive outing as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team members, it was good to be able to cap it with a victory."

Big boost

And 26-year-old Al Muhairi, who was making his competitive racing debut in the category one offshore event, believes the experience of working as a team under race conditions was a big boost to their overall training preparations.

"I am so happy. I can't wait to get back to my family and tell them all about it," he said. "I felt I managed myself a lot better and was more prepared to deal with fatigue and hunger than in previous sailing trips.

"Also, the fact that we were sailing with some of our team members as well as crew new to us, really helped me understand better how a team has to work together to win." – Gulf News

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