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13 January 2012, 03:17 pm
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Rise To Home Occasion
Abu Dhabi Racing
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Volvo Ocean Race
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Hometown heroes Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing claimed their second inshore victory on Friday, winning the Etihad Airways In-Port Race in front of thousands of local supporters.
Abu Dhabi, who take six points for a dream victory in front of their home fans, were followed by Groupama sailing team in second and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand in the third podium place. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG were fourth, followed by overall race leaders Team Telefónica in fifth.

Skipper Ian Walker said it was great to win on home waters, "We so wanted to win the race so we were prepared to take risks. We knew if we could win it would be very special for everyone.

"I want to thank everyone here for their support,"
Walker added. "Everyone has been wishing us luck in the in-port race during the stopover and there were so many people in the village and out on the water cheering us on.

"We're involved in a nine-month odyssey round the world but today is the most important day for Abu Dhabi. We have never seen this many boats out on the water to watch racing, and there are lots of people out who are new to sailing. Right now all they are seeing is their country flag being waved. It's a real thrill for that to happen."

PUMA led the fleet off the start line, but a port and starboard infringement on Telefónica soon after resulted in a penalty turn that cost them dearly. CAMPER made massive gains on the right hand side of the downwind course, but it was home favourites Abu Dhabi who came in from the left to take the lead at the first mark.

Abu Dhabi secured a 30 second jump over the fleet on the first 1.4 nautical mile run, but lost their lead in a port/starboard encounter midway through the second leg when they were forced to dip Groupama's stern. The close quarters upwind battle continued, with Abu Dhabi regaining the lead shortly before the second mark.

At the third mark, after just a few minutes reaching, Abu Dhabi led Groupama by 38 seconds, followed by CAMPER, PUMA and Telefónica, who slipped to last after a problematic second mark rounding.

Abu Dhabi's Azzam consolidated their lead as the fleet started the second lap of the eight-plus mile course in a southerly breeze gusting to around seven knots. The locals held their lead for the remainder of the race, when with fists pumping on board they crossed the line after just under an hour's racing.

Few were more thrilled than Azzam's local sailor Adil Khalid, the first Emirati to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race, who waved the flag of the United Arab Emirates as they finished.

"I am so pleased with this win here in Abu Dhabi," Khalid said. "The stopover has been wonderful and this is a great result for us as a team in our home port."

A touch of royalty joined the fleet, with His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan racing on board Azzam. Prince Andrew, standing beside Walker as Azzam crossed the line, gave the British skipper a congratulatory pat on the back.

Thousands of spectators lined the shores of Abu Dhabi and hundreds more, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, took front row seats on board spectator boats, as the fleet battled the third of 10 in-port races, which account for around 20 per cent of all points.

The more than 4,000 nautical mile Leg 3 race to Sanya will start on Saturday, with the first stage race from Abu Dhabi to a point off the Sharjah coast getting underway at 14:00 local time, 10:00 UTC/GMT. Early forecasts are tipping fresh north-west winds of 13 to 16 knots inshore, building to 18 to 22 kts offshore.

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 6 points
2. Groupama sailing team 5
3. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand 4
4. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG 3
5. Team Telefonica 2
6. Team Sanya DNS

Overall:

1. Team Telefonica 68
2. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand 62
3. Groupama sailing team 47
4. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG 31
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 25
6. Team Sanya 4*

* Team Sanya can still score points for Leg 2 and the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi In-Port Race if they complete Stage 1 in racing conditions.
Volvo Ocean Race
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