Dock talk: Leg 7 finish

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate after finishing first on leg 7 © IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race/Volvo Ocean Race
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate after finishing first on leg 7 © IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race/Volvo Ocean Race

After more than 3,500 nautical miles racing from Miami, across the Atlantic to Lisbon, Portugal, the Volvo sailors share their thoughts just minutes after touching ground for the first time in 12 days.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker:

This is a big outpouring of emotion. It's been a tough, tough leg. We had such high hopes coming into this race but we've been struggling for pace all the way. We have such skilled people on the shore team and the sailing team but we weren't getting results leg in leg out. It's brutal but now we've won a leg it's all worthwhile.

For all the people who follow the team in Abu Dhabi and all the people who follow Azzam, Azzam means determination and the sailing team have proven that the whole of our team have as much determination as anyone out there

I’d say the last two hours was worst than the whole leg put together. I’ve lost my voice, I’ve got a stinking cold, I didn’t sleep last night, I steered most of last night. But Rob brought it home, Rob steered the last four hours, I couldn’t get the wheel off him.

Every other leg every one has followed eachother in a straight line, and the faster boats just naturally get to the front. We saw that in the start of this leg, we won the start then Telefónica they all overtook us, later on on the reaches the same thing happened. But in the key phases of this race, speed wasn’t important. Getting the gulf speed right, getting the tide right, working the high pressure, working through the high pressure ridge, that’s all down to Jules (Salter) in the nav-station and making good decisions. Then it was a race to the finish and we had to hope we had enough miles to hold off what is likely the fastest reaching Volvo Open 70 ever. And we held them off by a whisker in the end.

Let me tell you that this leg, more than any leg, Adil came of age. Adil sailed the boat as well as anyone we could have put on the boat. He’s now won the transatlantic, he’s sailed across the Pacific, he’s sailed most of the way around the world, and that’s a tremendous achievement. 

This is my second Volvo race, that must mean I’ve sailed about 70,000 miles around the world and I’ve never won a leg. Seventy-thousand miles around the world is a lot of effort. To win a leg was one of my goals for this race, and one of the whole team’s goals for this race and it feels great.

We started strong in this leg, we won the in-port, we won the start out of Miami. Lisbon’s always been our home, we spent about eight weeks in the summer. We sailed up the river a number of times in practice for this exact moement, and all of that came in and helped.


Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing navigator Jules Salter:

It feels great. I thought it would be a bit longer before I won one of these legs in this race. It’s a special moment, it feels good.

It’s great for all the team and all the other people behind the scenes. We’ve been struggling in the race so far so it’s good to cheer everyone up a bit. It was a very interesting race, plenty of stuff going on. I didn’t really feel pressured in it, it was an enjoyable game. We know we struggle at times so there was no real pressure.

It ebbed and flowed all through but I only thought we would definitely win after we crossed the line. Even our finish was pretty tricky. When we had a good run through the Gulf Stream upwind and popped out in front we thought that we might have worked something out, but even that wasn’t easy. It was all good fun.

There is a lot of hard work by a lot of people that goes into one of these races. It just fell nicely for us this time, we took a couple of windshifts and a bit of current, tried to apply a bit of logic to it and probably had a huge amount of luck and got away with it – perfect!

We’re at the back of the fleet but we take each race at a time. We’ll see if we can do well in the next in-port and that’s how we roll, it’s all we can do.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Emirati crewman Adil Khalid:

It’s a great day for Abu Dhabi, and we hope to be able to do this on the remaining legs also and make Abu Dhabi proud of us. It’s such a great feeling, everyone dreams of representing their country, it’s so great to be waving the flat and be here right now.


Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing helmsman Anthony Nossiter:

Normally you finish these legs tired but you feel pretty refreshed when you clean up! I’ve managed to find some extra energy from somewhere. The longer you wait for it the more you enjoy it.

Groupama were really coming into us at the end, there was plenty of fever on board. We just tried to execute our skills as we normally would, regardless of where we were or the other boat was on the race course and sail as per normal.

I have to say everyone was pretty anxious over the last few days because we knew we were sailing into a brick wall and the boats behind us were going to come into us. We weren’t always sure how we were going to go at various wind angles, but we all just did what we could and hung on by the skins of our teeth. It’ll be a nice little kick start for us. A bit of a restart, I think. It would be nice if the race was starting now for us.


Groupama sailing team skipper Franck Cammas:

We have to wait for Telefónica but it's true that we could do a very nice operation with that second place, even though we can always regret not to have won. We were very close from Abu Dhabi and it came down to the wire, but we did a beautiful leg, with ups and downs and we finish with a up - we are super happy. 

We had everything! The weather was in favor of that. The leaders often ended up in tough situations because of the weather and the followers enjoyed it. We suffered from that at the beginning, we enjoyed it at the end - I think everyone deserves his place. Well done to Abu Dhabi who did a very beautiful leg. They are not used to that and that's really great for them. They deserve it, they were on it from the start.


Groupama sailing team helmsman/trimmer Phil Harmer:

It was really close the whole way and then at the end it was just phenomenal – seeing Abu Dhabi this afternoon then having a gybing duel off Cascais then a tight race up to the line was great. It’s really good for those guys to get the win. I’m really disappointed we didn’t get them because those extra five points would have been a big help to us but it’s all been great. 

The leg was full of mixed emotions. We had a great start and were looking good. Then there was a breeze shift and we were looking crap. We just worked so hard to get back into it, pushing really hard and fast. The guys did great on the boat and we got the yellow jersey – got to be happy about that!

Now we have to see what pans out behind us. We’ve done what we could and what happens happens. We’ll be ready for the next two legs anyway. It’s good to be back in Europe, we’ve done a lap of the world now and it’s time to sort the final business. 

That leg felt like it took forever. It was a long stressful leg for a short leg! We went into it with the mentality that it was a short leg so everyone was working really hard, not sleeping much. It does take it’s toll when you get to the dock and you’ve had enough.

These next legs are sprint races and we just have to push hard and do our best to get a couple of bullets to clinch the overall title. We’ve been together two years now, we know each other so well, and it’s all about getting the job done now, staying friends, and doing the best job we can. 

For sure we’re in with a chance at the overall title. Sadly there are four boats all in with a chance. We’ve put our mark on this leg. We had a setback in Leg 5 dropping the rig but came back to win the in-port, and then had a bad leg to Miami but we’ve turned it round again. We’re firing, ready for the next one.


Groupama sailing team bowman Brad Marsh: 

Right now I’m absolutely exhausted, I can’t really think straight! We felt we did really well in that leg. We left Miami well and then we were unfortunate in the first weather change after the Gulf Stream. It was really hard to take because we really felt we were on a good track. From there we just kept fighting, kept fighting, kept fighting like we’ve done so many times before. Finally the opportunity opened up at the end. All of today we weren’t sure whether we were going to in front of Abu Dhabi or just behind them, and it ended up just behind. It was a really nice battle.

I think the next couple of hours are going to be as long as the last couple of hours as we wait for Telefónica to come in and see where they are. At least we know we’ve gained more points on them and the last two legs all the way to Galway is going to be a big battle. 

It would be nice to lead from the start all the way to the finish! I think we obviously have a fast boat but we also have a great navigator and skipper who are very good at putting us in the right spot, reading what’s going to happen and getting us to where we need to be. That’s the thing that gets us back into it most of the time. 

The secondary objective of the Volvo Ocean Race is done now, to sail round the world from Europe to Europe. The primary objective is still yet to come with the last two legs. We need to win this race.


PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG navigator Tom Addis:

It was a tricky race that one, full of transitions that were hard for the lead boats to deal with. It was really hard to get continuity to it. In a race like that, especially with that park-up so close to the finish, you’re happy to get any sort of podium. 

I’ve really struggled the last few days so I’m really pleased to be here. It was so intense. You could never get ahead and stay ahead and the fleet couldn’t relax into a rhythm. There were always opportunities for the boats behind to catch up and that made it so intense.

The last few legs we’ve all compressed haven’t we? In the inshore racing you can control the points a little bit but in offshore racing you really can’t, so you have to go into every leg trying to win it, and see what happens after that.

When we dropped the rig in the first leg it was a mantra of ours that we wanted to win this race with the handicap of not actually completing all the legs. It’s funny though – we really didn’t expect to be here but you keep chipping away, we got a few wins, and here we are. 

Not much changes with our approach to the final legs. The structure of the legs change – they’re shorter and that makes them more intense. They’re going to be won or lost on smaller details, so it’s going to change in intensity. 

They’ll be almost like big inshore races and the tiny details will matter more and more. You can’t generalise or get on the wrong side of a shift -- you’ve really got to nail stuff to get an advantage. You’ve got a very short time to get that advantage and make it stick. The level of detail steps up for sure. 

Crew morale is good. It’s nice to get this leg out of the way – the transatlantic leg is always a bit daunting. We’re on a high, for sure.

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