Southampton ocean racer Ian Walker is to once again compete in the Volvo Ocean race, skippering the Abu Dhabi entry for the second time.
Abu Dhabi city, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has announced it will host the third 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race stopover in December next year.
Walker skippered the Arabian entry to a number of Leg and In-Port wins on its maiden title tilt in the last edition.
“Our involvement with the Volvo Ocean Race captured the imagination of our people, who have strong maritime heritage links,” said His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman, TCA Abu Dhabi, announcing Abu Dhabi’s commitment to next year’s event.
“The legacy of the last race is an increase in the breadth of sailing and watersport facilities available, which is something we will build on over this second outing. In 2012 over 120,000 visitors joined in the stopover celebrations at our dedicated waterfront race village – and we will be looking to build on our reputation of delivering a stand-out stopover experience that is talked about long after the fleet has left.”
“This second campaign will further galvanise the emirate’s grass-roots sailing development and again give us a global platform on which to promote our deep-rooted maritime heritage,” added Sheikh Sultan.
Abu Dhabi’s 2014 stopover will once again be focused on the purpose built Destination Village – the size of eight football pitches - on the city’s stunning Corniche breakwater.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing then enjoyed successes as the first Arabian challenger in the Volvo Ocean Race, with success in the UK’s testing Rolex Fastnet race, three In-Port Race victories, including one in front of 23,000 race fans in the UAE capital, as well as a memorable win in the high-profile, ‘blue-riband’ transatlantic Leg 7 between Miami, USA and Lisbon, Portugal.
"Abu Dhabi staged a truly original and massively appealing stopover during the last edition, with its own unique feel, and its return to the campaign will strengthen the legacy of the race in the city and the country," said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad.
"I'm sure Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will be among the challengers for overall honours this time. This announcement marks the beginning of another chapter for sailing in the United Arab Emirates."
Abu Dhabi will welcome the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on Leg 2 from Recife, Brazil, after it departs from its starting port of Alicante, Spain. Leg 2 is expected to take a month to sail.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is the third team announced for the 12th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, following the SCA All-Women's Team and a Recife-backed outfit.
Further host city announcements are due over the coming weeks, with the final route, including sailing distances and expected dates, to be unveiled by late-February.