The yacht of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team is called Azzam. In Arabic it means «determination, purposefulness, firmness, perseverance». Her skipper is British golfer Ian Walker, one of the most successful and experienced yachtsmen in the United Kingdom and an avid golf player. Whoever has seen golf at least once knows that it is played by people who are calculating, leisurely, long preparing for one blow.
Ten minutes aim - bang! - long walk in the fields.
Ian's already stormed the Volvo Ocean Race twice. The last one was huge in its catastrophic nature - on the second night of the race, the equipment on board started to break, and so continued all the way. The youngest member of the crew, Adil Khalid, who is also part of the crew this time, said about that race very directly - just finishing was a serious achievement for him. I don't think Walker was happy with that, so today the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team is led by an experienced and hungry to win skipper. Such always come to success themselves and bring their satellites, so the forecasts for the victory of this team are more than favorable. For the same reason, Azzam and its crew are a kind of media icebreaker for the media and advertising campaign of the regatta, reflecting its sports image and prestige. Khalid's impressive portrait adorns the exit from the Alicante airport terminal, symbolizing the purpose of your arrival. Adil himself is very pleased with this circumstance.
As a prudent man, Ian complains most of all about the novelty of the ship and the impossibility of remodeling everything in one fell «swoop». Compared to the previous seventy foot yacht for the 2011-12 season, Azzam, like all other Volvo Ocean Race monohulls, has a number of fundamentally different solutions that Walker thinks need improvement. However, to make such changes, according to the rules of the competition, their need to confirm more than half of the teams, and then the race committee must give the good.
Apparently, imagining the whole process, Ian is ready to give up a lot and not «improve». The sea teaches you to use a limited resource.
Ian was the first skipper to describe the new 65-foot VOR 2014-15 monotype yacht in some detail. A brief summary of his detailed monologue on the subject: yachts are easier in some aspects and more complex in others. They are more balanced and require less sailing (seven sails against the former eleven of the VOR70). So you'll have to work more with sails in general, but it's physical, Ian says, that boats have become more comfortable and easier because a number of nuances that have always been the hardest of sailing have been eliminated. And a number of other serious arguments worthy of a separate article. Walker and his crew are definitely more visible.
The total experience of these guys is significant even by the standards of this regatta. Only two of the crew are going to VOR for the first time, and one of them is a team reporter. And he's not allowed to pull ropes anyway. The legendary Spaniard Roberto Bermudez has the maximum number of participants in VOR regattas. He has done it five times. The rest of the crew have one to four. After launching and before the start of VOR, the yacht with the crew has already managed «to rewind» about 19000 miles - including twice across the Atlantic, and set a new record Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race 2014, beating Britain and Ireland in 4 days, 13 hours, 10 minutes and 28 seconds, which is 1 day, 8 hours, 16 minutes and 27 seconds better than the previous record.
Well stretch out, as they say.
By the way, Azzam made the transition from the USA to Britain together with the already familiar to us orange yacht Team Alvimedica. Both yachts made a joint «promotional» start in Newport, which gathered several hundred VOR fans. The rules of the regatta prohibit teams «from racing» in such transitions. It is difficult to say whether the crews wanted to test each other's competitiveness during the transition. And what happened after the start of the regatta, we already know. Team Alvimedica won
coastal race in Alicante, and Abu Dhabiwon the
first stage ofthe regatta.