SOUTHAMPTON sailor Ian Walker believes his Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team deserve to win the latest leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Olympic medallist Walker, who skippers the yacht Azzam, currently holds a lead of about 80 nautical miles over the rest of the fleet on the Miami to Lisbon route.
Approximately 1,000 miles remain, but Walker is expecting their rivals to close on them before reaching Portugal.
“We have sailed two or three very good days and given ourselves a nice cushion over the guys behind,” he said, speaking from the Atlantic Ocean on-board Azzam.
“But we know from the weather that they’re going to come in with more wind, so we’ve got to steel ourselves for the fact that we are going to lose miles and just pray that we’ve got enough in the
tank to get to Lisbon in first.”
Walker added: “I think we deserve it on this leg.
“Whatever happens between now and Lisbon it’s great we’ve given everybody something to smile about.
“You can be sure that we’re going to be pushing it as hard as we possibly can to get there first, and there’s nothing I want more than that right now.”
Walker believes Azzam must hold a lead of between ten and 20 miles when they reach the lighter airs around Lisbon to fend off the rest of the fleet in the seventh leg of the race.
“Whether we can hang on, I don’t know,” he said. “My gut feeling is that the whole fleet will be within an hour of each other.
“I think the whole race is likely to close right up and possibly start again in the light winds off of Lisbon, and I just hope that we get out first, because the last 200 miles to Lisbon we’re
probably going to need a 10 or 20 mile cushion to defend it.”