Monday, 21 May 2012

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing rules the in-port race

Abu Dhabi chases the Groupama during the in-port race
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
The city of Miami has finally said goodbye to the Volvo Ocean Race. It’s hard to get the attention of the sports fans in this city. The footfall in the race village was the lowest it’s ever been.

Sailing here can’t compete with the big American sports like basketball and football. With all that in mind the on the water turn out was good for the in port and race start.

Ian Walker and his team on Abu Dhabi OceOcean Racing showed once again that they are the kings of the in-port race, winning their third event.

Training pays off
They needed that win desperately, to just keep team morale up. They are having a terrible race offshore, and mathematically cannot win.

"That was a pretty strange race," said Ian "I have to say our crew work got us back in the race. It feels great - we've had a tough time.

“The last in-port race we had no training time, this time we made an effort to have two training days and it paid off.

Lead whittled down
The team sailed a faultless in-port race on Saturday, unlike the overall leader, Team Telefónica who got round the top mark in first and then proceeded to fall back after mistake after mistake.

The final nail in the coffin was when they had to perform a 360-degree penalty turn after hitting a mark. Finishing last saw their lead whittled down even further.

"It didn’t go according to plan - well, the first bit did, but then it went downhill," said Telefónica's Neal McDonald.

Overall points
"It’s so easy to lose places with all these good guys behind you. You only have to make one slip-up and one boat goes by, then another boat goes by and then you’re in last place. It’s tough - heartbreaking."

The fall out from Saturday’s in-port race was the points just bunched up even more. Puma sneaked past CAMPER in the last few metres of the race to take third and Groupama closed the gap on Telefónica to take second.

This is how it looks for the overall points going into leg 7.

1. Team Telefónica 165

2. Groupama Sailing Team 158

3. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand 152

4. PUMA Ocean Racing by BERG 151

5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 74

6. Team Sanya 27

The crossing to Lisbon looks like a fast one, with a low-pressure system repelling the teams across the Atlantic Ocean.

This leg will be very interesting to see who can make an impact and who falls behind. The big question is can Team Telefónica hold it grip on the overall lead?

Mark Covell

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