Race Leader Abu Dhabi Ocean racing leaves Newport on atlantic crossing
ADOR sixth out of Newport on Leg 7 to Lisbon, Portugal
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) - the emirateís Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) entrant - has left Newport, Rhode Island on Leg 7 of the 39,000 nautical mile race around the world.
The team, which is backed by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and leads the field in both the overall standings and in the short course In-Port Race Series (IPRS), passed the Newport leaving mark in sixth place after an hour of intense inshore racing which saw them lead at the start but drop to the back in a bad wind shift on the second leg.
Conditions were near perfect for the start of the seventh ocean leg with bright sunshine, clear blue skies and around 10-12 knots of breeze whisking the six identical Volvo Ocean 65 yachts around Newport Harbor - chased by an armada of hundreds of spectator craft cheering the fleet away to Europe.
At 2,800 nautical miles, Leg 7 is the shortest so far but sees the crews take on the rigors of the Atlantic Ocean on the way to Portugal where they are expected to make landfall in fewer than 10 days. This prompted some teams to refer to the leg as a Ďsprintí - a term ADOR skipper Ian Walker disagreed with.
"We are taking on an Atlantic crossing and all the challenges that brings," - Walker said. "This leg is far from straightforward and in fact looks like being packed with complexities. Itís going to take plenty of guile and the normal amount of strength and stamina to get a podium place so we are going to give it the respect it deserves."
ADOR won the scramble for best position on the start line and held a narrow lead at the halfway point of the first leg of the inshore course around Newport Harbor. The Abu Dhabi yacht rounded the first turning gate in third but tumbled to the back of the pack when they split sides with the fleet on the second leg and fell afoul of an unfavorable shift in the breeze. With few chances to make inroads into the leaders, Walkerís men had to settle for sixth place at the Newport leaving mark.
Photo caption: True Blood megastar Ryan Kwanten performs a huge 'Kwanten Leap'
from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam
Film actor and star of the HBO True Blood TV drama series Ryan Kwanten joined ADOR for the departure day in Newport, leading the crew in the Sailorsí Parade and joining them on board the Abu Dhabi yacht Azzam for the inshore section, before leaping spectacularly from the stern shortly after the leaving mark.
"That was a fantastic experience," Kwanten said shortly after being retrieved from the chilly Atlantic water in one of the ADOR survival suits. "There is so much going on all the time - it seems there isnít a minute when the sailors get a break. How they do that for days on end I canít fathom and I wish them the best of luck on the way to Lisbon."
With three legs left in the 2014-15 edition of the VOR, ADOR holds a six-point advantage over second placed Dongfeng Race Team who they have raced neck-and-neck with virtually all the way around the world. Despite the points cushion, UAE sailor Adil Khalid said the team would need to be on top of its game to maintain its lead to the finish in Gothenburg, Sweden at the end of June.
"We are well positioned at this stage but we have thousands of miles of ocean racing to go," - Khalid said. "I back us to stay strong but we have some very tricky waters to negotiate before this race is done."
The leaders are expected to complete Leg 7 in less than 10 days with some predictions suggesting the leaders could reach Lisbon as early as May 25.
For more information about Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, please visit www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com.