Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) received a pleasant surprise when they received a mid-Atlantic salute from the iconic British ocean liner the RMS Queen Mary 2, the flagship of the Cunard line.
Shortly before 1700 UTC and sailing upwind at 11 knots, Azzam was overhauled by the massive 1,132-foot, 76,000 tonne Queen Mary 2 (QM2) travelling at twice her speed en route from Southampton to New York.
ADOR skipper Ian Walker takes up the story:
'Believe it or not we have just been overtaken by the Queen Mary 2 on a perfect sunny day in the middle of the Atlantic! I called them on the radio and talked to the captain who said he was on the ship's tannoy telling all his passengers about the Abu Dhabi yacht and to come on deck and have a look at us.'
Walker gave permission for a close-quarters fly-by that enabled the QM2 master Kevin Oprey to snap a couple of mid-ocean photos of Azzam from the Queen Mary 2's bridge.
'I told the Master to come as close as he wanted and he literally passed 200 metres away from us!' said Walker, whose great-grandfather was a tugboat captain for the original Queen Mary cruise liner. 'We could clearly see the ship's passengers out on deck waving to us. It was unbelievable.'
As he passed Azzam Captain Oprey saluted the Abu Dhabi yacht with three long blasts on the ship's horn.
'I hope you and your crew enjoyed the salute,' he wrote in an email to the crew shortly afterwards. 'Many of our guests were on deck to see you. I will keep a look out for Azzam at Cowes Week from my little boat, a 37-foot Bavaria. Good luck to you in the Volvo Ocean Race!'