x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Emotional Ian Walker hails Azzam victory

Skipper mentally exhausted after tough win in Leg 7 of Volvo Ocean Race, which sees Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in fifth place overall as Groupama are new leaders. Audio interview with Adil Khalid

The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew beat Groupama for their Leg 7 win late last night. Rafael Marchante / Reuters
The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew beat Groupama for their Leg 7 win late last night. Rafael Marchante / Reuters

LISBON // Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing won the 3,600-nautical mile Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Miami to Lisbon late last night, beating Groupama, the new overall leaders, on the line.

This was the Abu Dhabi-sponsored Azzam crew's first success of the race.

Puma Ocean Racing finished third.

The closest finish was reserved for Telefonica who recovered to end in fourth place just one minute and 42 seconds ahead of Camper, who stalled in the Tagus River's current just metres from the finish, according to Volvo Ocean Racing's official website. The Chinese-based Team Sanya crossed the line in sixth place.

An emotional Ian Walker, the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew captain, told www.volvooceanrace.com that it was one of the greatest moments of his sailing career.

"Do you think you can make the last 10 miles of a race any harder than that," the veteran Englishman said. "It's a massive relief it was such a tough race. Everyone knows we're not as quick as some of the other boats so we just had to make up for it in other ways.

"It's one of the most amazing experiences of my sailing career, that's for sure. We paced ourselves pretty well, we were even sleeping today.

"We were preparing ourselves for a night in the river if we had to. Mentally, certainly I'm exhausted. It's just such a relief."

Abu Dhabi clocked 30 points for their win, taking their total to 104 points in fifth place overall, while Groupama scored 25 to take their overall tally to 183.

Result from Leg 7 means that Groupama have now edged to the top of the overall leaderboard, having finished two places clear of Telefonica, the leaders since the end of Leg 1 in November.

Puma scored 20 points for third place, rounding their total to 171 points and taking them up to third overall.

There are still two legs to go, with the race drawing to a conclution in Galway, Ireland, in July.

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