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Abu Dhabi lead the fleet to Sanya

 

 

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker, headed the fleet through a blanket of fog to take an early lead at the start of Leg 3 to Sanya, China. 

 

Few had reckoned on a thick fog for the Leg departure from Abu Dhabi where the boats had spent Christmas and New Year.

 

It enveloped the course from early morning and stubbornly refused to shift, even under the normal hot midday sun. Instead the teams had their work cut out even to see the turning marks through the murk before leaving the port where they had enjoyed such a wonderful break.

 

Azzam finished the in-port course after just under an hour (59min 34secs) as the sun finally began to poke through with Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) on their heels.

 

For Team Vestas Wind skipper Chris Nicholson (AUS) and his crew there must have been very mixed feelings as they waved their rivals farewell for the 4,642 nautical mile (nm) race to Sanya.

 

Nicholson’s boat is now heading for a major repair job culminating in their hoped-for return to the Race for the final two Legs from Lisbon from June 7 following their grounding during the second Leg on a reef in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Read more about the planned comeback here

 

“The toughest moment for us will be the first night of the Leg,” Nicholson told a news conference on the eve of the departure. “That’s when you really know you’re in an offshore race. But we have a new target now – to concentrate on repairing our boat to return to the Race.”

 

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