x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Volvo Ocean Race: Abu Dhabi team skipper recaps as golfer Sergio Garcia drops by

The Englishman Ian Walker brings upto date with what the captain and his Azzam crew have been up to in their preparations.

The Sydney to Hobart Race is a well-attended event on the calendar, something the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker wants duplicated in the UAE capital. Glenn Nicholls / AP Photo
The Sydney to Hobart Race is a well-attended event on the calendar, something the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker wants duplicated in the UAE capital. Glenn Nicholls / AP Photo

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. This is his second extract.

The year ended with a third-place finish on the water for the Ragamuffin team and I in the infamous Sydney to Hobart Race.

Alongside me in the Ragamuffin team was the most recent Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew member to have been announced – Australian Luke “Parko” Parkinson.

It was great to have some time on the water with Parko who has proven himself to be an outstanding sailor at only 23 years old.

He will be a great addition to our Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) team. The weather gods shone on us in Australia with only a short period of very windy weather at the end of the race as we approached the Tasmanian capital.

It was great to see how many people turned out to watch the start of this race on Boxing Day in Sydney, but I am sure Abu Dhabi can match that enthusiasm when the Volvo Ocean Race arrives in 11 months time.

Since then, I have enjoyed a short holiday with my family followed by an enjoyable few weeks in Abu Dhabi, capped with attending the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

It is great to take a look inside another professional sport and a real honour to meet some of the best players in the world. The Spaniard Sergio Garcia took time to visit our old training boat along with thousands of golf fans at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

He was impressed with what he saw but prefers his home comforts to the cramped conditions on board a 70-foot race yacht.

It was fun and Adil [Khalid] taught him a bit of Arabic in exchange for some Spanish tips. It will not be long before we will be needing our Spanish for when the Volvo Ocean Race starts in Alicante in October.

This week is a crazy travel week for me. Starting in Abu Dhabi, then back to the UK to see my family, and then to Geneva for the famous Watch Fair.

Now I am in Zurich for meetings with our sponsors IWC, off to the UK tomorrow to check up on the progress of the boat building, before heading to France to meet the sail makers.

It is hard to find time to fit in physical training and it is certainly less appealing in the cold temperatures of Northern Europe.

All of this will stop soon as sea trials of the new boat are just one month away.

It is a matter of weeks before the whole team meets for the first time, and it will feel like the real start of the next big adventure for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

sports@thenational.ae

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