05 Jumada I 1443 - 9 December 2021
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Eye of Riyadh
Eye of Riyadh
Sports | Sunday 7 June, 2015 8:22 pm |


Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) – the emirate’s Volvo Ocean Race contesting team – took second place after a thrilling photo finish with Spanish team MAPFRE in the Portuguese heat of the round-the-world race’s In-Port Race Series (IPRS) in Lisbon on Saturday.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed team now have a four-point lead in the IPRS with just the Lorient and Gothenburg heats of the short course series to go.

“It was great racing today,” ADOR skipper Ian Walker said. “It wasn’t always easy to get the wind and the current right but we managed to close down MAPFRE on the final leg and just missed out at the finish.”

Conditions were particularly tricky for the one-hour race around the narrow confines of Lisbon’s Tagus River, with shifty seven-knot winds and strong current making life difficult for the Azzam crew. ADOR was among the leaders from the start rounding the first mark in second and attacking MAPFRE hard on the final downwind leg to the finish.

The two yachts made their turns to the finish simultaneously and were bow to bow as they headed for the line. MAPFRE just held on and took the win by only10 feet. ADOR’s closest IPRS rival, Team Brunel finished fifth.

“The conditions were as we expected them – light and unpredictable,” said ADOR navigator Simon Fisher. “The guys had to work hard on the sail changes and we got a couple of key windshifts right.

“It’s nice to know we have a four-point cushion in the In-Port Series. We have two complex offshore legs ahead of us and the IPRS could yet be called into play if there is a tie in the overall scores.”

Before the race, ADOR’s celebrity guest, Portugal and Benfica footballing hero Nuno Gomes, took on skipper Walker in an impromptu free kick competition at the team base and led the Azzam crew in the Sailors’ Parade after Walker won the shootout by two goals to one.

“This crew are incredible to observe at close quarters,” said Gomes. “The level of skill and concentration is remarkable and what an exciting finish! I wish them all the luck in the world on the next leg.”

The ADOR crew now have under 24-hours to prepare themselves for the start of the eighth leg – the shortest in the race at 650 miles – from Lisbon to Lorient, France which is scheduled for 1400 Western European Time (1700 UAE) on Sunday.

According to ADOR’s Australian helmsman and trimmer Phil Harmer, the team will have very little prospect of sleep for the first night.

“We will be giving it everything to leave Lisbon in the lead,” Harmer said. “We want a fast exit from Lisbon and that means everyone on deck together for the first 12-hours at least.”

ADOR fans can watch the start live and track Azzam on the way to Lorient at volvooceanrace.com/live. For regular Tweets from on board reporter Matt Knighton on board Azzam during the leg, follow @AzzamLive on Twitter.
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