Adil Khalid is the Volvo Ocean Race’s first ever Emirati sailor.
Khalid, an Olympic dinghy sailor, was chosen over more than 100 potential candidates for a spot on Ian Walker’s crew. He celebrated Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s win in the Iberdrola In-Port Race by waving a huge United Arab Emirates flag high above him.
'It was a great start for us. It’s a great feeling to have won. This win is good luck for us and I hope that we are going to do very well in the future.'
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Volvo Open 70 Azzam blasted across the finish line, picking up maximum points in the first competitive action.
'It was a great start for us,' Khalid said as Azzam docked back in Alicante to rapturous applause. 'It’s a great feeling to have won. This win is good luck for us and I hope that we are going to do very well in the future.'
As the first Middle Eastern-backed team ever to enter to Volvo Ocean Race, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have the support of an entire nation – and Khalid said the win, by more than 14 minutes, had been well received.
'I’m very proud,' he said. 'Everyone’s happy back home. Hopefully we will keep winning.'
Azzam skipper Ian Walker said Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s win was a victory for the whole country.
'Everybody’s sitting in Abu Dhabi watching this live,' said Walker. 'I got a call from Sheikh Sultan (Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan), they’ve never even watched a sailing race before, so to see their first sailing race with Abu Dhabi sailing around in first place is a huge thing for the country.'
Thoughts now turn to the start of the first offshore leg to Cape Town, South Africa, on November 5 – and today’s win could just turn out to be a sign of things to come for Khalid.
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