Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 starts in Alicante, Spain on 29th October 2011 with the In-Port Race. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker said his team are nearly race ready after ticking off their final qualification.
Walker and his crew arranged to sail a 111-nautical mile passage to make up for time spent motoring during the official qualifying race to Palma, Mallorca, and back this month. Setting sail from Alicante yesterday, the team practised inshore manoeuvres around a course in Alicante Bay before heading offshore in their Volvo Open 70 yacht Azzam.
Their passage then took them round Isla de Benidorm to the north of Alicante then round Isla de Tabarca to the south before heading back to base.
'It’s the last thing we had to do to meet all the qualification requirements so it’s good to have it out of the way,' Walker said. 'We just have a few things to tick off on measurement and then we’re free to go.
'We feel like we’re getting towards the end of the job list and we managed to give the team a few days off over the weekend. The shore crew are no longer working 12 hours a day now so it feels like calm is starting to descend. I’m very relaxed about it all. We’re getting to the point where we’re ready to start the race.'
With less than two weeks until the Iberdrola In-Port Race Walker said this week’s focus was perfecting the tricky inshore manoeuvres required to race a Volvo Open 70 around a short racecourse.
'We blocked off this week for inshore training,' he added. 'Before we got to Alicante we had only done two days training inshore. The first element of this race is an in-port race so it’s very important. The manoeuvres can be very complicated and we still have along way to go but that’s what this week is for.
'We’re going to sail hard this week, a little bit next week and then have a little bit of time off before the start.'
Race director Jack Lloyd said he was satisfied Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing had carried out all requirements needed to qualify for the Volvo Ocean Race. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand are expected to perform a man-overboard drill tomorrow, the final requirement for their qualification. Volvo Ocean Race website