Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s (ADTA) Volvo Ocean Race 2011/12-contesting outfit, and its state-of-the-art Volvo Open 70 racing yacht, Azzam, meaning ’Determination’, will make its public and competitive debuts in the UK next week.
The striking black Azzam, adorned with a flying falcon logo, and her 11-strong intercontinental crew, will be unveiled to crowds at the UK’s Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week - one of the world’s most famous and longest running sailing regattas – and will feature in the event’s festivities, running eight days from 6th August.
Immediately after, the team will take its starting orders in the prestigious 608-mile Rolex Fastnet Race on Sunday 14th August, lining up against other Volvo Ocean Race 2011/2012 contenders - Team Sanya and Groupama – which are also fielding their newly-commissioned race yachts.
“It will be great to test ourselves against other teams and benchmark how far we’ve come, and equally importantly, how far we still have left to go. We’re rounding the final bend in our preparations and the Fastnet is going to play an important role in ensuring race-readiness,” said Ian Walker, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper.
“We’ll all be looking to flex our muscles without letting too much out of the bag, while trying to gain competitive insights. It is very much a real-time warm up for when we line-up in Alicante this October at the start of the Volvo Ocean Race.”
While in Cowes, ADTA will push its New Year hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet in a dedicated waterfront ‘Destination Village’ – the size of eight football pitches – being built on Abu Dhabi’s stunning Corniche. A scale model of the village will be on show in a heritage hospitality tent Cowes Yacht Haven, where regatta goers will also be able to sample Arabian culture in a heritage hospitality tent including henna painting, calligraphy and falconry.
The ‘Destination Village’ will be open free-of-charge to the public daily from 30th December to 14th January next year and is expected to welcome over 100,000 visitors through its gates.
“With a huge number of spectators due in Cowes for the event, this was a superb opportunity for us to show off Azzam, introduce Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, our contesting team, explain our ambitions and give the visitors a taste of Abu Dhabi in the hope it will encourage them to join us over the New Year for our own fortnight-long festival to mark our hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet,” said Dayne Lim, ADTA’s Product Development Director.
ADTA will also give an Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week visitor - who wins a sail ‘grinding’ time contest being staged in the hospitality tent - a luxury New Year’s holiday for two in Abu Dhabi. The VIP break will see the winner fly to Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways, the award-winning airline of the United Arab Emirates, to join in the UAE capital’s historic welcome of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet for the third host port stop-over.
Meanwhile, ADTA will also award the ‘Abu Dhabi Trophy’ for the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week regatta’s Big Boat race on Thursday, August 11.
“The aim is to give Abu Dhabi front-of-mind association with big boats and sailing festivities in the run up to our end-of-year hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet and to further recognition of our capital as a winter sailing destination,” added Lim.