Portuguese Legend Joins Azzam For Volvo Ocean Race Leg 8 Start
Portuguese football legend, Luis Figo, helped kick off Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s quest to score a second consecutive podium place in Lisbon on Sunday, as the enigmatic star joined the Abu Dhabi-backed outfit for the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 8 start to Lorient, France.
Figo, the 2000 European Footballer of the Year, the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year and the most capped Portuguese player of all time, was all smiles onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam (determination) yacht as the team looked to carry on its winning offshore form into the highly tactical 1,940 nautical mile European sprint stage, which started Sunday.
Onboard as a guest of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority-backed team and its sponsor, IWC Schaffhausen, Figo - who has played for many of the world’s top football giants, including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Internazionale - was quick to praise the impressive team-work onboard Azzam.
“How the team works together here is fantastic. I wanted to help, but I don’t know how. It looks like you want to be part of them [the team]. It’s very nice. This is my first time and it’s been a great experience,” said the 39-year-old superstar, who jumped off Azzam in style as the team headed out into open water.
“I was very enthusiastic to get on this type of boat, the fastest in the world, and to be part of this fantastic competition and the experience to be with the team. I am very, very happy with that. The jump was funny. The experience has been very, very nice .I think the group and the crew very friendly and it was a good experience to see how they work as a team...to see how they move and how they work. Very nice.”
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Emirati Olympian, Adil Khalid, the first Gulf national to take part in the Everest of Sailing, was star-struck by the football great, taking the advice he was given with his trademark grin.
“He is a man who has obviously known success at the highest levels, it is very obvious. It was great to have him onboard Azzam and we had a good talk. He is an inspiration and makes you want to try that much harder,” said Khalid.
The Volvo Ocean Race Leg 8 starts Sunday and is expected to take a week to complete. After a fortnight long stopover in France, which TCA Abu Dhabi will activate with a wealth of heritage attractions such as henna, falconry and Arabic calligraphy demonstrations, the race begins its final journey to Galway, Ireland on July 1st.