Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Ian Walker says the new Volvo 65 design may limit performance, but it is a price worth paying if it means better racing and less chance of gear failure. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi / Volvo Ocean Race
Ian Walker says the new Volvo 65 design may limit performance, but it is a price worth paying if it means better racing and less chance of gear failure. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi / Volvo Ocean Race

One design better for all in 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race

The first of a monthly diary from Ian Walker, who will once again skipper Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's boat Azzam in the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race.

Editor’s note: The Englishman Ian Walker again will be the skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s boat, Azzam, in the Volvo Ocean Race, which begins in October. He will write a monthly message leading up to the race.

It hardly seems possible that in 12 months we will be lapping up Abu Dhabi’s fantastic hospitality after having completed 12,000 miles of the next Volvo Ocean Race. We might be only two legs into the race by the time we get to Abu Dhabi but we will have sailed nearly one-third of the total miles and no doubt the pecking order will be well established.

I suspect 2014 will pass in a blur. A new boat, some new team members, fresh rivalries and, of course, new friendships, too. One of the things I like about the Volvo Ocean Race is the bond that links the sailors. Yes, we desperately want to beat each other, but you never know who might be the ones to help you out in a time of need, far out at sea.

It is the start of a new era with the much-talked-about one-design Volvo Ocean 65. I’ve always been a big fan of one-design and there is no doubt the race would have died without major change. But it will be sad to see the end of boat and sail development and the intrigue of which team will have an edge in which conditions. I am sure there will be frustrations at the inability to change things that do not work as well as planned on the boats, and for sure the boats will be limited in performance by the quest for reliability and simpler handling, but the up sides of a level playing field and more teams in the race are too great to ignore.

For each and every race sponsor there will be the knowledge that their team technically has the same chance of winning as everyone else, and for the sailors, there will be nowhere to hide.

I am really looking forward to sailing the new boats although I am not sure February’s sea trials will be that appealing. Certainly a long way from Abu Dhabi’s warm, clear blue waters at that time of year. I’ve eagerly listened to comments from anybody who has sailed the new boats. Rumour has it the 65s are well put together and fun to sail, but they are considerably down on sail area from the Volvo 70s we are used to. All of this, and the shorter waterline length, adds up to more time at sea but if it means better racing and less chance of gear failure then again it is a price worth paying.

I’m most excited about early February when our team assembles for the first time since 2012. We will have a nice mix of familiar faces from previous races and some fresh new blood. I not only want to win the next VOR but I also want to have a great time doing it. That starts with getting the right people involved. Neal McDonald and I have worked hard to get the balance right and with Guy Barron assembling a fantastic shore team, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing should be in a very good place. Watch this space for new crew announcements in the coming weeks.

One unusual thing for only nine months before the race, is not knowing much detail about our opposition. The one-design rule has meant teams have had more time to raise their money and there has been no need to rush to enter the race. As of now we know of only four entries. Other than us, we have SCA, which will be crewed by women; Dongfeng and Brunel. I’m confident more teams will be announced soon.

I am going to be racing in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race this Christmas with the excellent team on-board the Ragamuffin 100. It will be my third Great Race and it is always a good chance to remind the Aussies how much better the Fastnet Race is. Sadly, it looks like I will be getting some stick thanks to our cricketers, but we have had a good run for the past few years.

I am not a huge fan of New Year resolutions, but if I were to name three for 2014, they would look like this:

• To delegate more to the excellent team I now have around me

• To get fitter and stronger than ever before

• Don’t break the mast on the first night

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing fans. I hope to see you in Abu Dhabi for Christmas and New Year 2014/15.

sports@thenational.ae

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 An tenant in the Al Barsha area of Dubai has been sent a non-renewable contract by the landlord. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Dubai landlord refuses to pay back Rera fees after losing rent case

Keren Bobker helps a tenant who wants to know how to reclaim his RERA case fees and who has also been sent a contract with a “one-year nonrenewable” note.

 A customer looks at a large mock-up of videogame console Game Boy.  Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP Photo

Nintendo’s Game Boy at 25: hand-held legacy lives on

Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks its 25th anniversary Monday with the portable device’s legacy living on in cutting-edge smartphone games and among legions of nostalgic fans.

 JP Duminy played a cameo knock of 52 not out from 35 balls to tip the game in Delhi Daredevils' favour. Pawan Singh / The National

Kolkata Knight Riders lose way as Duminy sizzles for Delhi Daredevils

JP Duminy keeps his head as cameo at the death helps swing it in Delhi's favour in Dubai after captain Karthik plays the anchor role.

 A projectionist takes a break in the projection room at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan. Going to the movies, once banned under the Taliban, has become a popular form of entertainment in Kabul, but women and children rarely take part. All photos by Photo by Jonathan Saruk / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghan cinema: Forbidden Reel

The lights go down and the projector whirls into action as Sher Mohammed, 35, begins his routine, bouncing back and forth between two projectors, winding reels, and adjusting the carbon arc lamps inside the projectors.

 The mother removes the noose with the help of her husband from around the neck of Balal.

In pictures: Mother forgives her son’s killer as he awaited his execution

An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National