9:30am Friday 1st June 2012
SOUTHAMPTON sailor Ian Walker skippered Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to victory in leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Walker and his crew crossed the finish line in first place at the end of a nerve-shredding transatlantic crossing, from Miami to Lisbon.
Their yacht, Azzam, beat second placed Groupama by just five-and-a-half minutes, following 3,500 nautical miles and more than 11 days of sailing.
Groupama were within a mile of their rivals as they headed up the River Tagus towards the finish line.
But Walker’s team defended resolutely to ensure that their first podium finish on an offshore leg would also be their first win, and spark wild celebrations lit up by a booming firework display.
"It's incredible, what a welcome," said Walker, before he and Emirati crew member Adil Khalid were chucked into the water by their teammates.
"Do you think you can make the last ten miles of a race any harder than that?
"It’s one of the most amazing experiences of my sailing career, that’s for sure. Mentally, certainly I’m exhausted. It's just such a relief."
In the overall standings, Groupama moved into first place. Abu Dhabi are in fifth place.
Volvo Ocean Race standings (after leg 7)
Team Telefónica 180
PUMA Ocean Racing by BERG 171
CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ 162
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 104
Team Sanya 32
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