Abu Dhabi retires from Leg 1

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Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race

(Source: Volvo Ocean Racing) Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing retired from Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Friday having returned to racing early on Thursday following their dismasting on the first night.

The decision leaves four of the fleet of six still racing the first stage, the 6,500-nautical mile leg from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town. Team Sanya also pulled out after suffering substantial damage to the boat’s hull on Sunday.

An Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing spokesperson said: “Despite the heroics performed by the shore crew in getting our yacht Azzam re-masted after it was damaged last week in high seas and strong winds, the team believes that the estimated arrival time in Cape Town would be counter-productive for its preparations for Leg 2, especially given the almost windless prevailing weather conditions in the Mediterranean.

“Azzam’s mast and rigging system have not been compromised and the decision is purely one of time management.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will now sail to Lisbon, Portugal with an expected arrival time of Saturday evening. Azzam will then be shipped to Cape Town to arrive around November 28.

The decision will give the team suitable time to ensure the boat and the team are 100 percent ready for the Cape Town In-Port Race on December 10.

“Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is steadfast in its commitment to return to the race from Cape Town,” the spokesperson said.

Abu Dhabi’s shore crew worked around the clock to replace a mast broken in three places on Saturday night, around six hours after the leg start, when the boat crashed into a huge wave while sailing in the Mediterranean towards Gibraltar.

Skipper Ian Walker explained: “Since dismasting shortly after the start on Saturday our team and Future Masts have worked tirelessly to fit our spare mast and examine the cause of the original mast failure. We need time to make modifications to our rigging system in Cape Town and the only way we can gain that time is to travel to Cape Town by ship. This has been one of the hardest decisions of my life to make but I have to consider not only the safety of the crew but the long term interests of the project.”

The British double Olympic silver medallist continued: “This is only the first leg of a long race and with this decision and a lot of hard work we can be race ready for Leg 2. I am particularly sad as this is my favourite leg of the race and the whole crew had been looking forward so much to it. I wish all the teams left in the leg fair winds and we will be there to greet them in Cape Town.”

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  Comments: 5


  1. No dramas. Go the Abu Dhabi-plenty of track left!


  2. Ian Walker has made absolutely the right decision. To continue into worsening weather with a dodgy un-proven rig and rigging set-up would not be good seamanship and could further damage the programme with no current spare available. And just on that subject what is taking Future Fibres so long to figure out what happened. they have had the rig a whole week. If I were Ian Walker or Mike Sanderson – the only other yacht with a Future rig and rigging – I would want some answers pretty soon.


  3. crawl back under the rock you came from. Do you not think that Future Fibres has been fully integrated in the decision making process with Abu Dhabi? Just because YOU don't know what happened, doesn't mean the people who need to know don't know. Think before you rant.


  4. Touchy!So now we do know what happened.It would seem Ian Walkers latest comments confirm a magor rigging design problem with Future's attempt at a making discontinuous system. More than likely a D2 failure at the end of spreader 1 caused the rig to come down. Going to a continous system will mean more weight and windage, but more likely to make it around the world. Sanya will have the same issues. Still the right call from Walker to retire.


  5. …as Sanya limps to Madagascar with a flapping D2 I wonder if this second seemingly identical failure is just a coincidence. At least the stick still stands….