Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s VO65 Azzam touches the water
Posted on 06 March 2014 by Valencia Sailing
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s VO65 Azzam touches the water
Posted on 11 February 2014 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing] Ireland’s Justin Slattery, Australia’s Phil Harmer, Britain’s Simon Fisher and New Zealand’s Andrew McLean have joined Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s crew for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.
Joining Ian Walker’s crew this Monday are four sailors with a combined total of 12 Volvo Ocean Race campaigns between them.
They join Emirati crewman Adil Khalid, Australian under-23 recruit Luke Parkinson and British onboard reporter Tom Bushell.
All four have previously raced with Walker, Abu Dhabi’s double Olympic silver medalist skipper.
ADOR performance manager Neal McDonald was instrumental in the selection process. “I’m confident we have the right people. It’s a solid mix without any big egos. This is an international lineup, but the common factor is that they are all very much focused on winning.”
For bowman Slattery, this will be his third lap of the world with Walker and his second Volvo Ocean Race as an Abu Dhabi crew member. Likewise navigator Fisher will be racing for Abu Dhabi for the second time after competing as a helmsman and sail trimmer in the last race.
McLean and Harmer previously raced around the world with Walker two editions ago. In the 2011-12 race Harmer was part of the winning Groupama crew and McLean finished second on CAMPER – this time both plan to use their experience to help Abu Dhabi’s quest for a Volvo Ocean Race victory.
“Phil, Andrew, Simon and Justin each bring unique skills and invaluable experience to the team and I couldn’t be happier to have them aboard,” said Walker. “We all enjoy sailing together and that can an important factor in the pressure cooker environment of a nine-month yacht race around the world.”
The final member of the nine-man crew list will be announced in the coming weeks. After visiting the Emirati capital this week, next on ADOR’s agenda are safety tests and sea trials aboard their new Volvo Ocean 65.
The one-design boat will hit the water in Southern England in the next weeks. Trials should be completed by the beginning of March when the team will sail to its training base near Lisbon, Portugal.
Posted on 02 October 2013 by Valencia Sailing
Despite the financial crisis that has crippled the sponsorship market in the sport of sailing, it appears that Knut Frostad, CEO of Volvo Ocean Race, will manage to pull this off and have at least seven boats on the starting line in Alicante a year from now. In addition to Team SCA and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, we should expect teams from the Netherlands, Spain, New Zealand, Great Britain and China. Although at times we have been critical of Frostad, the measures taken last year were certainly life-saving. Bringing costs down was the only way to ensure that the race wouldn’t disappear or that there wouldn’t be just two or three entries.
The organizers of the 35th America’s Cup should probably borrow a page or two from Frostad’s book if they are sincere in their talk about multiple challengers. With an America’s Cup campaign cost of at least US$ 100 million, there is no way whatsoever that any challenger that doesn’t have the initial backing of a billionaire will make it to the Louis Vuitton Cup. Even the almighty Team New Zealand, the world’s only exception to that rule, will need government funding to kick start its campaign. However, Larry Ellison might not even want multiple challengers but just a handful of billionaires that play with him!
Back to the Volvo Ocean Race now and the latest update on what our sources deem to be the most possible lineup in Alicante:
The all-female crew entry, backed by Swedish forest-product multinational SCA, is undoubtedly, the most advanced and visible of all the official and potential entries. Not only are they fully-funded, they have been training with a VOR70 for the last few months, they have hired most of their crew, they have established a training base in Puerto Calero and, most importantly, two days ago they were officially handed their racing VO65 yacht.
The pink and white VO65, the first one of the eight units scheduled to be built, successfully went through the pull-down test a week ago and then went for her maiden sail three days later. The Swedish VO65 will most probably head to Lanzarote in the following days where she will spend the next months for an intensive winter-training period.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
The team skippered by Ian Walker and funded by the wealthy emirate of Abu Dhabi is the second official entry in next year’s race. Although not advanced as Team SCA in their planning, Abu Dhabi have been very active in the last few months, training and racing on their VOR70 Azzam. They should be receiving their brand new VO65 in the next weeks and there is no doubt further official announcements will follow as well. With such a strong financial backer, there isn’t much to worry about.
This is probably one of the strongest and most plausible efforts, led by Team Heiner sailing events organization together with Dutch VOR veterans Gerd-Jan Poortman and Bouwe Bekking. They are aiming at a reasonable budget of 16 million euros and when we bumped into Bekking at the Maxi Yacht Worlds in Porto Cervo, he sounded very enthusiastic about the prospects and hinted that it wouldn’t be long before we hear an official confirmation.
Team New Zealand
Team New Zealand was rumored to enter the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, regardless of the outcome of the 34th America’s Cup. It is only logical that their defeat in San Francisco makes that scenario even more realistic. We understand that Camper, the Spanish shoe manufacturer, will be again with the Kiwis but it’s not sure whether they will back the team to the extent they did in 2011-12. There is talk of a “big” Russian sponsor as well but we haven’t been able to gather any credible and reliable information on that. We wouldn’t be surprised though if it were Gazprom…
Spain / Pedro Campos
Pedro Campos is said to be near a final deal that will allow him to enter the Volvo Ocean Race for the fourth time. It seems that Spanish insurance group MAPFRE will be the main sponsor and the 15-million euro target will be achieved with the addition of three-four secondary commercial partners.
Nevertheless, Campos, in a recent article in Spain’s El Pais newspaper was painting a much bleaker picture. According to his comments, “we are fighting, struggling to move ahead. It’s hard due to the crisis and the general business situation. It is certainly the most difficult year to find financial backing. Sailing has lost many sponsors and the debacle of Madrid 2020 has been another stick in the wheels of project financing.”
Are Campos’ comments sincere or just a bargaining tool in order to force Knut Frostad and the Volvo Ocean Race organization to lower the price of the VO65′s? We will know in the next few weeks.
Our sources are sure that there will be a British team in this edition of the round-the-world race, even if they are short on details. The official announcement of the entry from the United Kingdom shouldn’t take long as it seems it’s a “done deal”. We will just have to wait.
With China now having become the most important market for every major multinational, the fact the Volvo group is keen to have a local entry shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially considering the fact Volvo Cars is Chinese-owned. As a result, it seems there will be a Chinese boat that will cross the starting line in Alicante, a year from now. However, unlike all previous editions, this is destined to be a “real” Chinese entry, funded by Zhejiang Geely Holding, the Chinese parent of the Volvo Cars group.
Although it will be skippered by a well-known European sailor, Chinese sailors will not be simple figureheads. According to our sources, the aim is to have onboard as many locals as possible and portray an image of a proper Chinese team. Our sources indicate that Mark Turner and OC Sport will manage the team. However, when we contacted Turner he denied having any involvement, stating that they “didn’t have any Volvo Ocean Race project in place today.”
Posted on 17 September 2013 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority] Swiss luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen has announced its agreement with Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) to become the first major sponsor of its new-look Volvo Ocean Race 2014–15 team, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – which returns to the gruelling round-the-world sailing odyssey for a second shot at glory.
The partnership, which also sees IWC Schaffhausen reignite its Official Timekeeper status for the forthcoming Volvo Ocean Race, came at the newly opened IWC boutique at The Galleria at Sowwah Square on Al Maryah Island – Abu Dhabi’s largest high-end shopping destination.
The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing partnership, which continues from the 2011–12 edition when the team became the first Arab-flagged entry in the race, opens up considerable marketing and engagement opportunities globally as the race calls at 10 cities across four continents, starting in Alicante, Spain, in October next year.
“Abu Dhabi and IWC Schaffhausen have forged a deep-rooted spirit based on the fundamentals of tradition, a desire for perfection and winning mentality. We saw these core values come to the fore during the last campaign, and they are the building blocks of our future cooperation that will see both brands ride high on another wave of success across the globe,” said Faisal Al Sheikh, Director – Events Bureau, TCA Abu Dhabi, which is also behind the UAE capital hosting the third stopover of the 2014-15 race over Christmas and New Year.
IWC and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing made a number of headline-grabbing initiatives in the last race, including hosting two of the world’s most pre-eminent footballers of their generations: Luís Figo and Zinédine Zidane, on board the team’s state-of-the-art yacht, Azzam (determination).
Karoline Huber, Regional Brand Director of IWC Middle East & India, said that fans can expect much more from the next campaign in Abu Dhabi.
“The Volvo Ocean Race is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular round-the-world sailing events. We are proud to be part of this exceptional test of sailing prowess, which attracts the very best teams on the planet,” said Huber.
“Through Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing we continue to grow the synergies between our two brands: precision, technology, engineering and innovation. With our unabated commitment to the emirate, the launch of our new boutique at The Galleria and plans for the UAE capital’s hosting of next year’s race stopover, we fully expect to make big waves across the region and the world together.”
Abu Dhabi city will host the third 2014–15 Volvo Ocean Race stopover from mid-December 2014 until 3 January 2015.
The UAE capital will welcome the fleet from Cape Town (South Africa). The Abu Dhabi Etihad Airways In-Port Race, which was won by home favourites Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the last edition, will take place on 2 January 2015, with the fleet departing for Sanya (China) the following day.
Posted on 23 August 2013 by Valencia Sailing
Abu Dhabi Ocean Race – Fastnet 2013
Posted on 09 August 2013 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Regatta News] A diverse and quality fleet of international yachts are braced for the 45th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race. 347 race starters, hailing from 20 countries, are expected. This represents a race record and confirms the event’s enduring appeal.
The Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes will host the race start on Sunday 11 August. Eight staggered start sequences will take place with the first warning signal at 11:50 local time. A tactically challenging race in excess of 600-nautical miles to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock on the southern tip of Ireland awaits.
During the previous edition of the race in 2011 both the multihull and monohull race records fell. Rivalries at the front end of the fleet appear even more engaging in 2013.
Volvo 70 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing representing the United Arab Emirates, is the current monohull race record holder (42 hours, 39 minutes) although skipper Ian Walker concedes that the challenge in 2013 is sterner, both in terms of the opposition and due to the forecast conditions. “It’s going to be quite tactical,” admitted Walker, “upwind to the (Fastnet) Rock which is not ideal for us and then potentially lighter after the Rock.”
Two 100-ft Maxis are expected to lead the challenge for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s line honours crown. Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard (GBR) was the fastest boat at both the 2007 and 2009 Rolex Fastnet Races while Igor Simčič’s Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) has cemented its reputation dominating offshore racing in the Mediterranean. The latter will count on the tactical guidance of experienced skipper Jochen Schümann and in the forecast light airs is the pre-race favourite. “We are here with the sole purpose of winning line honours,” confirmed Schümann, “although the impressive race record will be very hard to beat.”
In terms of multihull interest the duel between Spindrift 2, skippered by Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard – the race’s largest yacht at 131-ft and race record holder under its former guise as Banque Populaire V – and the new Banque Populaire (the ex-Groupama 3), promises to be tight. The multihull record in sight is a staggering 32 hours, 48 minutes.
Line honours is only part of the story. Niklas Zennström’s Rán 2 (GBR) is aiming to become the first boat to win the Fastnet Challenge Cup – awarded for overall victory on rating – three times in a row. This year she has an additional adversary in American Hap Fauth’s fellow 72-ft Mini Maxi Bella Mente, a frequent foe over the past 12 months. “The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of the iconic classics of our sport,” explained Bella Mente skipper Mike Sanderson, ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 2006. “We’re expecting a very tactical upwind beat to the Fastnet Rock. This is going to keep it very interesting and you’ll need to be truly on top of your tactics. We have to beat Rán 2 on the water but at the same time make sure we don’t sail each other off the course.”
Forecasting an overall winner from the outset is an arduous task. Conditions will dictate the type of race in store. Efficient teamwork and crews’ ability to predict and control the elements are key factors. Proving the race’s democratic nature is the list of recent winners. This includes two Corinthian crews: Frenchman Jean-Yves Chateau’s 33-ft Iromiguy in 2005 and the 50-ft Chieftain from Ireland in 2007.
Iromiguy is one of the former winners to return to the fold. Another is Dutchman Piet Vroon – competing for an impressive 25th time. A winner in 2001 with his former boat, Vroon is campaigning his new Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens 3. Just surpassing Vroon in terms of Fastnet appearances is 84-year old Ken Newman who this year embarks on the nautical pilgrimage to the Fastnet Rock for the 28th time. The oldest of all participating entries is the yacht that claimed the very first race. Jolie Brise is celebrating her centenary and won the inaugural Rolex Fastnet Race back in 1925 in just under 147 hours.
Travelling from furthest afield is Australian Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Men’s Business 3.5, Rolex Sydney Hobart winner in 2010. “To come and do the Rolex Fastnet is huge. We’ve done 16,000 miles across the water to be here. We want to do the race to add to our sailing experience,” explained Boettcher. “To succeed in offshore racing you really need a good boat which we have, sails included, a crew that can stand up and push for three days in foul weather, and a bit of luck.”
Times have changed, the challenge remains as enticing as ever.
Posted on 05 August 2013 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing] Highly decorated sailing veteran, British Olympian Neal McDonald, is to taking the helm as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Performance Director in the team’s second bid for Volvo Ocean Race glory next year. Emirati star, 24-year-old Adil Khalid, has re-signed as an Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew member under the leadership of skipper Ian Walker.
Six-time Volvo Ocean Race legend McDonald, from Brighton in the UK, has completed more than 200,000 nautical miles in the race over a nearly two decade long offshore career. Alongside Walker, he will lead Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s technical programmes, training camps and crew development to streamline the team’s victory pursuit in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, starting next October in Alicante, Spain.
“Neal is one of our generation’s best sailors and will bring a fresh, winning dynamic to the team’s preparation. Having played an instrumental part in a hat-trick of leg 1, 2 and 3 victories for Team Telefonica in the previous race, his broad depth and diversity of experience and knowledge will be critical in our next campaign,” said Walker.
“As a qualified naval architect he is extremely analytical and capable on the technical side. I have the upmost respect for Neal and he would always be my first choice on any team sheet. I can’t think of a better person to inspire our team for the challenges that lie ahead.
“With the advent of one-design boats the emphasis will be much more on the sailors and I hope that Neal will help us create the strongest team possible,” added Walker, himself a two-time Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup veteran.
Meanwhile, Adil Khalid, who during the last race became the first Arab sailor to compete in and complete the global event, joins the team this week in the UK for his competitive Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing return, taking part in the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week’s Big Boat Races (6-8th August) before crewing the team’s defence of its Rolex Fastnet Race record next week (11-13th August).
And Walker, who mentored the young Emirati Olympian during the 2011-12 campaign, said Khalid’s experience will serve the team well as it again prepares for a title tilt.
”Adil earned everybody’s respect on board in the last race. He now has all that experience and with hard work he should grow into a senior team member. Adil is a very patriotic young man and a great role model for all young sailors in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates and the entire Arabian Gulf region. I am sure he will get to wave the UAE flag many more times during the next race,” said Walker.
Joining his fellow countryman, 27-year-old Butti Al Muhairi, also returns to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, on the shore team, after a successful stint in the previous race. Al Muhairi, Khalid’s reserve, will guide a core group of young Emiratis working across the shore-side operations.
Al Muhairi will be led by America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race specialist, Guy Barron, who joins as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Shore Manager. With more than 25 years professional sailing under his belt, Barron will use his vast experience to optimise all shore-side operations throughout the 39,000 mile global event.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will announce its full crew line-up in the first quarter of 2014, when it will also receive its new one-design Volvo 65 race yacht.
Abu Dhabi city, the UAE capital, will host the third 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race stopover from mid-December 2014 until 3rd January 2015
Posted on 24 February 2013 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] The British sailor talks about the return of Abu Dhabi in the Volvo Ocean Race with both a stopover and a team he will skipper:
About the team & stopover announcement:
“ Weave worked on this since the end of the race. We’ve put so much energy into the team in the last race; we just desperately wanted to see it carry on. I’m really pleased in that regard to see that Abu Dhabi Ocean lives on. And I guess for me personally, I’m thrilled because I get another chance at the race. I’ve not been happy with the positions we’ve finished in previous races. There has been a bunch of reasons behind it but with the new rule and the team behind us, for me it’s all about trying to win the Volvo Ocean Race.”
About the continuity with the sponsor:
“Abu Dhabi are a great sponsor and the continuity is really important. So much energy goes into setting up a team and understanding relations with your sponsor and what everybody is trying to achieve… You’ve got a big head start if you’ve got continuity from having done it before.
“It’s very easy to underestimate how much work goes into setting up and, in fact, setting down the Volvo Ocean Race. To be able to keep that going will be of real help. It means we can spend much more time focusing on the sailing side, which can help us winning the race.”
About the team:
“ I’ve certainly become a very popular person on email! We’re not employing anybody really; we’re employing our time working with the Tourism Authority on exactly what they want to do this year and to make a plan for training with the new boat next year. Obviously we’ve strong ideas about some people we want to have in the team and it would be great to keep a core group from last race. Again that’s adding to the continuity if you can keep the same people moving forward. But we also want to strengthen the scenario and to freshen things up a bit. So I think we’ll see a mixture with some people from before and hopefully some exciting new figures as well.”
About the One Design Volvo Ocean 65:
“Initially, I was one of the skippers who didn’t have an interest with a sail making or a boatbuilding company and I had the biggest boat background in One Design sailing compared to, say, a Franck Cammas or Mike Sanderson. And I struggled with the boat in the last two races so I’ve always been very keen on the One Design. And particularly because I’ve had to do with the commercial sides of these projects, I understand the commercial reality and the fact that if they didn’t change the rules, then there probably wouldn’t be another race. It would have been too expensive and people wouldn’t have had time to raise the money in order the design the boat. I’ve always been a big supporter of it.
“If it hasn’t been for the new rule, then I probably wouldn’t have done the Volvo Ocean Race again. It’s just too painful. Too much work goes into these projects and I think one of the biggest advantages is not just the reduction of the budget, but it’s the fact that anybody who invests in the Volvo Ocean Race, whether they start now or in six months’ time, know that they will have the same equipment and that they are gonna be competitive. That’s definitely going to be the tightest race in history – it has to be! All of which excites me. Having been so enthusiastic of it, I was even more desperate, I guess, to get a chance to race in a One Design race.
“As far as the boat is concerned, I haven’t been hugely involved in the details. I’ve been focused on making sure that we’ve a team in the race. They got good people. I have a lot of confidence in Farr Yacht Design and the people, who’ve been advising them. I’m perfectly confident that will be a good boat.”
About the team’s schedule:
“I’m in Abu Dhabi at least half the time and it makes it much easier to work with the Tourism Authority. We will almost certainly sail Azzam this year, maybe trying to break the Fastnet race record this summer and trying some potential crew and new ideas. The team won’t come together fully until the new boat is launched, which will probably be in the New Year. We’re also looking to do things in Abu Dhabi as well because there is more and more sailing in the region. We need to look at ways to involve the team and Abu Dhabi.”