Abu Dhabi: Azzam, the new 65-foot carbon racing yacht in which Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ador) will contest the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race, has sailed for the first time with the crew, led by British double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, conducting sea trials along the British coast.
The Arabic name given to the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority-backed Volvo Ocean 65 boat stands for determination. The craft was launched from Southampton Docks for safety and familiarisation tests.
Azzam is one of seven identical Volvo Ocean 65 yachts being built for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 and the fourth to take to the water ahead of the race start on October 4 in Alicante, Spain.
The Ador sailors were unanimous in their praise of the yacht they’re relying on to get them quickly and safely around the 39,000-mile course, which includes a stopover in Abu Dhabi over the 2014/15 Christmas and New Year festive season.
Walker is keen to move the Ador campaign into the next phase and has put his crew on standby to sail over 1,000 miles to the team’s training base in Cascais near Lisbon, Portugal.
“The sailing we’ve done this week has given us a great deal of faith in our new Azzam,” he said. “It’s fantastic to finally have her to ourselves and we can’t wait for a bit of open water sailing.”
Far from a relaxed delivery trip, Walker says the passage to Portugal will be the first opportunity for the crew to familiarise themselves with the idiosyncrasies of the Volvo Ocean 65.
“It’s a three- or four-day run and it will be a good shakedown sail to give us all an early chance to get to know the boat better and start to work out how to sail this new design at optimum performance. Every minute we spend on the boat from now on is an opportunity to learn how to sail her faster when the race comes around,” he added.
Visit www.volvoceanraceabudhabi.com for more information on the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team.