With repairs carried out on boat, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will attempt to catch up with the rest of the five boats off the coast of New Zealand. Audio interview
Azzam rejoins action in Leg 5 of Volvo Ocean Race
Jules Salter, the Abu Dhabi navigator, notified race control that the Abu Dhabi team had rejoined the leg at 11.30am (UAE time) close to the spot where they were forced to turn back just hours after the start on Sunday.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing returned to Auckland after tearing out the internal supporting bulkhead for their J4 headsail a few hours into the leg. The team put back to sea at 3am after some speedy repair work by their shore crew but then had to shelter from winds as high as 60 knots for several hours before resuming racing this morning.
Ian Walker, the Abu Dhabi skipper, described the violent storm that caused Azzam to shelter as “a meteorological kick in the guts”.
“All we needed was a break from the weather to get us back in the race, the other boats are only 200 miles away after all, but sadly we have exactly the opposite,” he wrote in a report from the boat.
He added: “This is more than enough wind to put our boat, sails and people in serious danger.”
The skipper was full of appreciation at the speed the repairs were carried out.
“Thanks to a fantastic effort by our shore team we were able to leave the Viaduct with everything fixed four hours ahead of schedule,” he said.
“We can’t thank you all enough guys and girls for your work – a great team effort.”
The rest of the fleet encountered horrendous conditions heading north against fierce winds generated by an intense tropical depression before turning to the south east and accelerating to average speeds over 20 knots.
Having been the first to breakaway from the pack to the east yesterday, at 11am today overall race leaders Team Telefónica held an 11 nautical mile (nm) lead over second place Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand.
Puma lay in third a further nine nautical miles back less than one nautical mile ahead of fifth-placed Team Sanya, with Groupama sailing team in fifth another mile behind.
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE