First Abu Dhabi VOR team appointments

Four crew members announced for Ian Walker's round the world race team

Saturday November 20th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Arab Emirates

The 2008/2009 Volvo Ocean Race winning navigator, Jules Salter, heads a quartet of world-class sailing stalwarts signed up to the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team, which will contest the 2011/2012 round-the-world race.

In a major coup for the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority -backed outfit, Salter the former Ercisson 4 navigator is joined by New Zealand’s Craig Satterthwaite as watch leader, Ireland’s Justin Slattery as bowman and the UK’s Simon Fisher.

And with skipper Ian Walker at the helm, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will likely boast one of the most experienced and decorated sailing teams on the Volvo Ocean Race’s Alicante start line next October.

“The impressive pedigree of these crew members is a clear signal of our intent to be a competitive force in the race,” said His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, ADTA - which lead-manages the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team. "Further than challenging for competition honours, we hope the team’s knowledge and experience may be fully harnessed to leave a compelling legacy for Abu Dhabi in terms of reigniting a love of the sport among our own youth.”

Having been part of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09 winning Ericsson 4 team and a runner up in the 2005/6 campaign aboard Pirates of the Caribbean, Salter, from the Isle of Wight, is one of the most revered navigators in top-level yacht racing. The 42-year-old father of two has also notched up victories in the 2010 Medcup Circuit and the 2010 Louis Vuitton regattas.

Volvo Ocean Race 2005/06 winner, Slattery, who was also bowman on American Steve Fossett’s record-breaking 2004 world circumnavigation - joins on the back of an impressive run of form.

As part of the 2007 America’s Cup winning Alinghi team, as well as watchleader for 2009 Sydney-Hobart race victors Alfa Romeo, Auckland-born Satterthwaite also brings to the table a wealth of top-tier competitive experience.

And 32-year-old Fisher’s impressive Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup expertise over the last decade rounds off a world-class line-up of sailing talent for the emirate’s debut pursuit in the 39,000 nautical mile, round-the-world challenge.

"The confirmation of Jules, Craig, SiFi and Justin as our first sailing team members shows just how serious ADTA is about being successful in this race. This is exactly the calibre of sailor you would like to have beside you in what will be probably the closest fought round-the-world race ever,” said skipper Ian Walker. “In these four, we have a very strong foundation of race winning experience upon which to build the rest of the team."

ADTA is in the final stages of appointing the remaining members of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s 11-strong crew, which will include at least one UAE national. The Emirati selection programme is in its latter stages with 20 candidates shortlisted.

The hopefuls are currently preparing to undergo a demanding fitness and endurance programme to assess their mental and physical strength, before sea trials on the Arabian Gulf waters begin next month.

Abu Dhabi’s on-water ambitions are being equally matched by its on-shore preparations as the United Arab Emirates’ capital readies for its New Year 2012 hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race prior to the yachting fleet embarking on its third leg to Sanya, China. The emirate will be the first Middle East stopover in the event’s 37-year history.

ADTA, which was behind the emirate's successful bid to become a 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race home port and the event’s first Official Destination Partner, believes the Abu Dhabi stop-over will be a race highlight and will give visitors a unique opportunity to connect with its centuries-old maritime heritage.

“Race followers can realistically anticipate a welcome like no other,” added Al Muhairi. “The UAE capital will be alive with a packed programme of activity and entertainment that will culminate in a memorable maritime experience and impress upon the attending and watching world Abu Dhabi’s mounting credentials as an international winter yachting destination.”

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