Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam is back in the water, her new rig is in place and skipper Ian Walker expects to be back sailing as early as this afternoon.
A team of experts has been working tirelessly on Azzam since the Volvo Open 70 arrived by ship to Cape Town on November 30, and now, with major work pretty much complete, it is all about fine-tuning.
“The rig is in, it’s up to jack pressure and we’ve completed measurement. We hope to be sailing this afternoon or this evening,” Walker said.
“Once we’re out sailing we’ll have a couple of days of rig tuning but we did use this set-up sailing to Lisbon so that’s positive.
Azzam lost her rig in fierce conditions on the first night of Leg 1 just over one month ago. The team resumed racing after an around the clock effort by a dedicated shore crew to step up a new mast, but Walker knew that there was more to gain in the long term by retiring and taking the time to tune-up the new rig at Cape Town.
The British Olympian’s insight has now paid off with the team finding confidence in their new rig as early forecasts for Leg 2 predict strong winds.
“We’ve got a rig solution we think, we have more belt and braces than we had before. Now it’s about sailing. I think it will all be fine.
“The forecast looks pretty windy for the first 24 hours but it’s good to get conditions like that at the start of the leg. Once we’re through we can relax and get into it.”
Of the six Volvo Open 70s, backed by corporate sponsors and sailed by professional crews, only three – Team Telefónica, CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ, and the Groupama Sailing Team made it to South Africa on their own bottoms. The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing‘s Azzam lost her mast and Team Sanya suffered hull damage within the first 24 hours of the race. PUMA Ocean Racing’s Mar Mostro lost her rig in the South Atlantic and diverted under jury rig to Tristan de Cuhna. The three damaged boats are traveling by ship, as deck cargo, to Cape Town for repairs and to continue the rest of the eight legs of the race.
The V&A Waterfront In-Port Race will kick start on December 10, ahead of the start of the Leg 2 race to Abu Dhabi on December 11.