Volvo Ocean Race closes in Abu Dhabi, Fans urged to deliver a ‘stand-out’ UAE welcome

ABU DHABI: The residents and sailing fans across the UAE have being urged to help cheer on the hardy Volvo Ocean Race(VOR) fleet this weekend as it arrives in Abu Dhabi at the end of the 5,200 nautical mile voyage from Cape Town in Leg 2 of the round-the-world epic.

The winner and podium place sharers are now expected past the finish line and into the Corniche Bay at around approximately 1pm on Saturday and, at this stage, it’s anybody’s guess who will take victory honours. The three lead contenders – Holland’s Team Brunel, China’s Dongfeng and Abu Dhabi Ocean Ocean Racing (ADOR) – are battling it out off the coast of Oman with less than 11 nautical miles between them until now.

And with the closest of finishes looming, residents and sailing fans across the UAE are being encouraged to get down to Abu Dhabi’s stunning Corniche, as well as the purpose-built Destination Village on the Corniche Breakwater, to give the fleet the warmest of welcomes to the only Arabian destination among the nine stopover ports in the race.

“The excitement is building,” said Mohammed Al Zaabi, from Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which is behind the emirate’s VOR campaign. “This is a chance for us all to demonstrate what Arabian hospitality is all about – no matter who claims the Leg honours.

“Of course, we expect many locals, residents and fans to give a raucous welcome home to ADOR and its Azzam yacht – particularly our own Emirati sailor Adil Khalid – the only Arab crew member in the race.

“People on either side of the Corniche Bay will be able to see the yachts as they come in to berth at the Destination Village and we anticipate sailing fans in the capital will be out in force on the water to sound their horns and escort the winner to its UAE home for the next three weeks. Of course, being a race, it’s impossible to say exactly when the yachts will arrive – people should keep tracking progress via the VOR website and app tracker – but those wanting to be there when the winner emerges can spend time waiting in the Destination Village, which is now open, and where there’s plenty to keep everyone occupied – and it’s free-to-enter.” Over the next three weeks the Destination Village will host performances and appearances by over 200 artists from 23 countries, including Lebanese singing sensation Myriam Fares, Argentinian guitar maestro Dominic Miller, French marine adventurer Fabian Cousteau, the City of Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, Grammy nominee Kamal Massalam and Madrid’s renowned ‘El Corral de la Moreria’ flamenco troupe. The Village also boasts a whole host of other activities and entertainment.

The village opens daily from 12 noon to 9pm Sunday-Thursday and 11am to midnight Fridays and Saturdays until January 3rd when the fleet leaves on the third race leg to Sanya in China.

SOURCE: WAM