ABU DHABI // The capital was yesterday confirmed as the first Middle East port to be made a stop-over in the Volvo Ocean Race. The round the world race, held 10 times since its inception in 1973, will hit the shores of the Emirates in January 2012 as the cream of yachtsmen and women make their way along 37,000 nautical miles route from the Spanish port of Alicante to Galway in the Republic of Ireland.
Mubarak Al Muhairi, the director general of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), described the event as a coup following in the staging of Formula One, the Club World Cup and European Tour golf in the emirate. "The Volvo Ocean Race attracts enormous global interest, and those people will now be able to discover more about the tremendous coastline we have here and our maritime traditions," he said. "I can promise those involved we will deliver a reception that will raise the benchmark."
The dozen or so yachts that will dock at a port at the Emirate's Palace hotel will include one built in the capital racing under the Team Abu Dhabi name. The initial intention is for that boat to be crewed by sailors based in this country. "A local entry always creates greater interest and we are delighted to welcome Team Abu Dhabi into the fold," said Knut Frostad, the race's chief executive, who has competed in the maritime endurance test on four occasions. "Abu Dhabi's bid stood out ahead of others because there was a great willingness to meet our requirements, an understanding of competitors' needs and an enthusiasm to be part of all this."
The monohull yachts will arrive in Abu Dhabi from Cape Town, South Africa, in January 2012 and stay for nearly two weeks before setting off in an easterly direction to a yet-to-be-announced destination which will be about two weeks' sailing time away.The entire voyage will take the winning yacht about 130 sailing days over a span of nine months and whoever arrives first in the romantic setting of Galway Bay will succeed the crew of Ericsson 4, the Swedish entry skippered by Torben Grael who reigned supreme in 2008-09.