Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has retired from the Volvo Ocean Race's gruelling Southern Ocean Leg 5 to carry out urgent repairs to its yacht Azzam and ensure full competitiveness for the final four legs of the global sailing event.
Having first noticed hull delamination on March 29 when Azzam was sailing against 35 knot winds and four metre swells in the Southern Ocean, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing affected at-sea remedial repairs on the port side mid-ship of the yacht to minimise delamination spread. Despite the team’s efforts, these repairs were deemed insufficient to tackle the forecasted hurricane conditions off Cape Horn.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is now heading to Puerto Montt on the West Coast of Chile. A major repair and shipping operation is being put into effect to ensure that the team and race yacht will be ready to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race in Itajai, Brazil on April 21.
Dayne Lim, Product Development Director, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, said: “As team principal, we are naturally disappointed, because we had anticipated being competitive in this leg, but ultimately it was not to be.
“Safety of our crew is always the overriding prerogative in such circumstances and having explored all options, this was the optimal decision to make. In spite of this setback, our ambition for Azzam to complete this arduous event on her maiden voyage remains undeterred.”
With weather forecasts continuing to predict 50 knot winds and 10 metre sea swells for the next four days around South America’s notorious Cape Horn, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker said that having conferred with the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, retiring from the leg was a difficult decision but the only reasonable option to ensure the safety of all onboard.
“As skipper my overriding responsibility is the safety of Azzam and her crew and this is always at the forefront of my mind. The Southern Ocean is one part of the world you do not want to head out into with a yacht that is not 100 per cent.
“We have carefully reviewed all our options, spoken with our build teams and weather experts and this was the only sensible choice available to us.”
“Of course we are devastated. However the team is fully motivated and will once again show a fighting spirit to get Azzam back sailing competitively as soon as possible”.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is the second team to withdraw from Leg 5. Team Sanya retired in the opening stages due to structural damage. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand and Team Telefonica have also both experienced structural damage and have suspended racing at different points this leg to undertake repairs.
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