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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Abu Dhabi Wins Volvo In-Port Race in Alicante

Alicante, Spain

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, led by British skipper and double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, have picked up the first points of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 by winning the inaugural in-port race.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Photo: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race
They crossed the finish line14-minutes  ahead of PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG followed by CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand in third. Team Sanya edged Groupama sailing team for fourth, with Team Telefónica coming home sixth.
Photo: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race
Groupama lodged a protest against CAMPER as soon as the race finished.

“It’s a great win, I feel fantastic,” Walker said. “It’s a great start for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. I don’t think it means too much but I said before we left the dock that whoever wins today’s race can go home with a spring in their step and look forward to the week ahead.”
Photo: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race
The in-port race marked the start of the epic 39,000 nautical mile round the world race, tipped to be the most competitive edition in the event´s 38-year history. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing go into the first offshore leg with a six point advantage.

All 10 Host Ports around the world will stage in-port racing during the Volvo Ocean Race where crews will be able to test their skills in close-quarter manoeuvres and tactics. More than 20 per cent of all points are up for grabs in the in-port racing, which could prove vital when overall positions are decided.
Photo: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race
Strong winds and pelting rain greeted the teams as they left the dock in Alicante but by the time the start gun fired at 1400 local time the weather had cleared and a 10-15-knot breeze blew down the race course.
Photo: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race
An incredibly close start saw Abu Dhabi, CAMPER and Groupama lined up and equally matched, each looking for the slight advantage over their rivals. After a weak start, Telefónica and Sanya were left playing catch up.

As the yachts approached the first mark it was PUMA's Mar Mostro with the inside track but sailing’s ‘rules of the road’ meant Ken Read’s team had to give way to Ian Walker’s crew and the United Arab Emirates’ first ever entry in the Volvo Ocean Race took the lead.
Photo: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race
Slick crew work from Walker’s team saw them extend their lead during leg two. A nightmare rounding at the second mark saw CAMPER slip from second to fifth, a perfect example of how one mistake can cost dearly.
Camper with ETNZ Photo: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race
A dwindling breeze in Alicante Bay confounded the situation on the water as the teams struggled to keep their boats moving. The instability of the breeze led to the race committee shortening the course, and with a substantial lead over their opponents, victory was assured for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

With the race’s first ever Emirati, 22-year-old Adil Khalid, waving the flag of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s yacht Azzam crossed the line to claim the first points of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.
Photo: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race
Walker said a slick sail change at the second mark was the key moment. “We had practised it in training and we pulled it off,” he said. “It was a credit to everyone.”
Photo: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race
Just one week remains for all six teams to make their final preparations before setting sail from Alicante to Cape Town, South Africa, in the first of nine offshore legs. Leg one starts at 1300 UTC (1400 local time) on November 5 and is expected to take approximately 21 days.

Iberdrola In-Port Race provisional results:
Position / Team / Time / Points

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / 53 minutes 44 seconds/ 6
2. Puma Ocean Racing powered by BERG / 1 hour 07:58 / 5
3. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand / 1:10:11 / 4
4. Team Sanya / 1:10:43 / 3
5. Groupama sailing team / 1:11:11 / 2
6. Team Telefónica / 1:12:08 / 1

Lulu Roseman

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