the most enthusiastic celebration of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's crushing victory
in Saturday's opening stage of the Volvo Ocean Race came from 23-year-old crew
member Adil Khalid.
sleek black yacht Azzam made its way back to port in Spain's Alicante after
blowing away its five rivals, Khalid energetically waved a huge United Arab
Emirates (UAE) flag before spraying champagne off the side of the boat as he
beamed at the cameras.
first sailor from UAE to take part in the Olympic Games in 2008, Khalid beat
around 120 other applicants to win a place on Azzam, which means
"determined", and is the first Emirati to compete in the eight-month,
39,000 nautical mile Volvo Ocean Race.
loved it," Dubai-born Khalid said in an interview on Sunday as Azzam and
the five other 70-foot yachts bobbed gently up and down in the harbour nearby
and crew members chatted in the warm sunshine.
is always the best moment in every sailor's life but this is only the first
step and there is a long way to go," he added.
guys were so happy and we have the confidence now and we think we are going to
do so well going around the world representing UAE."
organisers acknowledge, Khalid's presence on the boat has less to do with his
sailing skills, which were honed in much smaller dinghies a world away from the
Ocean Race vessels, and a lot to do with raising the event's profile in UAE.
as entering the first Middle Eastern-backed team, Abu Dhabi is one of the host
ports, a key attraction for some of the race's corporate sponsors keen to push
their business in the region.
skipper Ian Walker, a double Olympic silver medallist competing in his second
Ocean Race, said having Khalid on board was crucial to building the event's
profile in UAE and had the added benefit of taking some of the attention away
from him and the rest of the 11-man crew.
whole thing is new for him as he has obviously come from a dinghy
background," Walker said on Sunday."So although he's a good sailor
and he's sailed in the Olympics he was really starting from scratch in terms of
sailing on big boats.
has a lot more to learn but he's coming on very well and the good thing about
Adil is that he is pretty comfortable on the boat so we don't have to keep an
eye on him too much.
important thing is to get him to a stage where he can contribute to the team
and hold down his watch. Without that he would just be slowing us down."
job is to help the bow man and complete physically challenging tasks such as
grinding and trimming.
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