Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

Ian Walker asks Adil Khalid to ‘step up’ to senior role

Ian Walker, captain of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's "Azzam", has entrusted the Emirati sailor Adil Khalid to step up for a senior role under the new rules for the 2014/2015 race.
January 13 2012 - Abu Dhabi - Ali Khalid and Azzam skipper Ian Walker  celebrate their victory at the Etihad In-Port Race. (Razan Alzayani / The National)
January 13 2012 - Abu Dhabi - Ali Khalid and Azzam skipper Ian Walker celebrate their victory at the Etihad In-Port Race. (Razan Alzayani / The National)

Adil Khalid, the first Emirati sailor to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race, will return to the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team for the 2014/15 edition of the gruelling competition in a “senior role”, according to Ian Walker, the boat’s captain.

The race begins in October at Alicante, Spain, and concludes at Gothenburg, Sweden, after teams circumnavigate the globe.

In a move designed to increase competition, all teams will sail boats of an identical design. The number of sailors on each boat will be reduced from 11 in the 2011/12 race to eight.

“Adil has got to step it up in this race,” Walker said. “The last time round he was very much a junior member of the team. He was one of 10 on-board whereas he is now one of eight.

“There was a huge transition in our boat during the last race and I think at the start we maybe didn’t trust him to do things that he didn’t do before and we were concerned he had not been in the situations that he himself said he didn’t know what to expect.

“It is not about just sailing; I am talking about just being on the boat for 20 days. A lot of questions were on Adil. Like, ‘how do you look after yourself? How do you manage your sleep?’ And so on.

“But as the race went on Adil got to grips with all of that. And towards the end of the race he didn’t have to think twice on what he had to do.

“We didn’t have to worry about him.”

Walker expects the young Emirati this time will be a source of support for other crew.

“He may have to do multiple duties and understand the critical factors at the critical moments during the race,” said Walker, the double Olympic silver-medallist for Britain.

“He has to react fast and really step it up and take more responsibility. And if he can keep improving like he did in the last race we have no worries at all.”

Khalid, 22, acknowledged his first experience in the taxing ocean race was eye-opening.

“I know the role better, when doing it all over again,” he said. “I have been doing a lot of work in the gymnasium to get a lot stronger before I get onto the boat to show what I have got.

“Obviously, everything was new for me when I did it the first time but I know what to expect and what to do going into the race for the second time.

“It is definitely easier doing it all over again. The people on the boat also start to trust in your abilities because you have already been in the business.”

Walker and his team have to wait until February before their boat arrives in Abu Dhabi, allowing them to begin preparing it with trial runs, ahead of the race start.

“It seems a long time away but when you look at the year plan and the number of days left, it’s kind of scary to think how fast the race is going to come around,” said Walker, who added that he is pleased with the rule change calling for organisers to deliver identically prepared boats.

“From my point of view it is very exciting because it is one-design sailing, like in the Olympics,” he said.

“It is really the test of the teamwork, individual skills and fitness. It is much more the skills of the people than the technology, like in the previous races

“The team will get together at the beginning of February.

“We will assemble the boat and then we try a sea-trial process, sail the boat down to Portugal, which is where we trained for the last race.

“We train there for four months. Typically, we do about three weeks and take one week off. And at the end of that period we are going to have a test ourselves by sailing under race conditions across to New York and back across the Atlantic again, back to the UK.

“We basically have got four months of intensive training followed by a short test. We’ll have a little time off and we are back to Alicante for the start of the race.”

The 2014/15 race calls for nine ports of call, including Abu Dhabi late in 2014 and carrying through into 2015.

apassela@thenational.ae

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Updated: December 16, 2013 04:00 AM

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