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"There is a much tougher challenge ahead" - Walker

 

 

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing came from behind to cross the Fastnet line ahead of future Volvo Ocean Race rivals Team SCA on Wednesday morning but all skipper Ian Walker can think about is the race he is really preparing for.

 

Happy with the race?

 “It was a really good race in a number of ways: it was not too punishing, we had lots of good sailing. We’ve had lots of new guys on board and it was really good to be racing so close to SCA because it kept the intensity very high through the whole race. And also, let’s be clear, they were a long way ahead of us at times so it put a bit of pressure on us and it’s always good to see how people react to that pressure.”

 

Speaking of that, how did the guys you have trying out for the team do? Did they win their ticket for the next Volvo Ocean Race?

“I’m delighted with everybody, both old and new. We’ve been sailing for three weeks and we’ve done some training in Cowes Week and the Fastnet and I think everybody has improved enormously. We sailed the boat really efficiently. But of course we were 15 people and in a Volvo Ocean Race we’d be eight people. It’s a much tougher challenge ahead.”

 

What did you think of Team SCA’s performance, leading most of the race and taking the IRC CK class victory?

“I was telling people before the start of the Fastnet that there was a very good chance that SCA would beat us because they are very good sailors and they’ve been training for quite a long time now. They’ve got good guys coaching them and they have a good boat. So I knew before the start that it would be a very tough race. Which is exactly what it turned out to be – SCA sailed very well indeed.”

 

How much do you read into this Fastnet Race for the next Volvo Ocean Race?

“The big thing in the next race is that everybody is on the same boat. Providing you’ve done the training, then anybody is going to be a tough rival. it doesn’t matter whether you’re a young team, a female team or the most experienced team in the race. Everybody is going to have their chance to be very competitive if they train and prepare well, which is what the SCA team do.”

 

The next steps for the Abu Dhabi project?

“Now we’ve got some more potential team members to meet, talk to and sail with. We’ll do some more offshore racing over the autumn and winter and very quickly our focus will turn to the new boat. Hopefully it will be delivered in March next year.

 

“Also, Azzam is for sale! But everything is a possibility, our lovely boat is in excellent condition now and ready to go sailing if we decide to.”

 

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