Volvo Ocean Race veteran McDonald signs with Abu Dhabi for 2014/15

Neal McDonald brings 20 years of round the world racing experience to Abu Dhabi
Top round the World sailor and former British Olympian Neal McDonald, will be Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Performance Director in the team’s second bid for Volvo Ocean Race glory next year.

Emirati star, 24-year-old Adil Khalid, has re-signed as an Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew member under the leadership of skipper Ian Walker.

Fleet in action at Chanonry Sailing Club - 2015 Scottish Musto Skiff Championship
© Nathalie Birt
Six-time Volvo Ocean Race legend McDonald, from Brighton in the UK, has completed more than 200,000 nautical miles in the race over a nearly two decade long offshore career. Alongside Walker, he will lead Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s technical programmes, training camps and crew development to streamline the team’s victory pursuit in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, starting next October in Alicante, Spain.

'Neal is one of our generation’s best sailors and will bring a fresh, winning dynamic to the team’s preparation. Having played an instrumental part in a hat-trick of leg one, two and three victories for Team Telefonica in the previous race, his broad depth and diversity of experience and knowledge will be critical in our next campaign,' said Walker.

'As a qualified naval architect he is extremely analytical and capable on the technical side. I have the upmost respect for Neal and he would always be my first choice on any team sheet. I can’t think of a better person to inspire our team for the challenges that lie ahead.

'With the advent of one-design boats the emphasis will be much more on the sailors and I hope that Neal will help us create the strongest team possible,' added Walker, himself a two-time Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup veteran.

Meanwhile, Adil Khalid, who during the last race became the first Arab sailor to compete in and complete the global event, joins the team this week in the UK for his competitive Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing return, taking part in the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week’s Big Boat Races (six-eighth August) before crewing the team’s defence of its Rolex Fastnet Race record next week (11-13th August).

Works continue at Green Marine on the final stage of the first Volvo Ocean 65

And Walker, who mentored the young Emirati Olympian during the 2011-12 campaign, said Khalid’s experience will serve the team well as it again prepares for a title tilt.

'Adil earned everybody's respect on board in the last race. He now has all that experience and with hard work he should grow into a senior team member. Adil is a very patriotic young man and a great role model for all young sailors in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates and the entire Arabian Gulf region. I am sure he will get to wave the UAE flag many more times during the next race,' said Walker.

Joining his fellow countryman, 27-year-old Butti Al Muhairi, also returns to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, on the shore team, after a successful stint in the previous race. Al Muhairi, Khalid’s reserve, will guide a core group of young Emiratis working across the shore-side operations.

Works continue at Green Marine on the final stage of the first Volvo Ocean 65

Al Muhairi will be led by America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race specialist, Guy Barron, who joins as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Shore Manager. With more than 25 years professional sailing under his belt, Barron will use his vast experience to optimise all shore-side operations throughout the 39,000 mile global event.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will announce its full crew line-up in the first quarter of 2014, when it will also receive its new one-design Volvo 65 race yacht.Abu Dhabi city, the UAE capital, will host the third 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race stopover from mid-December 2014 until third January 2015.

Abu Dhabi will welcome the fleet from Recife, Brazil after one of the longest and potentially most-gruelling legs in the 40-year race history (9,707 nautical miles). The Abu Dhabi Etihad Airways In-Port Race, which was won by home favourites Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the last edition, will take place on January second 2015, with the fleet departing for Sanya, China the following day.

The Volvo Ocean 65 mast sections are made in two halves by Southern Spars, New Zealand.

Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which is behind the emirate’s race campaign as well as the stopover, is pushing forward a package-strong and tourism-driven event, including a fan-friendly Destination Village on the stunning Abu Dhabi Corniche breakwater as well as a compelling entertainment programme to leverage the highly sought-after Christmas and New Year dates.

TCA Abu Dhabi is once again working closely with a number of government bodies to successfully deliver the stopover, including Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club - the Official Host Yacht Club and key partner in the roll-out of the stopover and junior sailing initiatives; the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club - Technical Headquarters, which will be home to the team areas and international television broadcast compound, and the Event Security Committee, Ministry of Interior, Critical Infrastructure & Coastal Protection Authority, Department of Transport, SEHA, Abu Dhabi Customs, Abu Dhabi Municipality and Abu Dhabi Airports Company.

ENGLAND, Gosport, 31st July 2013. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing host the Harlequins.
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