Ian Walker on the Volvo Ocean Race

Photo: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
How it will be necessary to sleep with your sails
Ian Walker returns for his second crack at the Volvo Ocean Race as skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. While the funding issues that affected his Green Dragon campaign in the last round the world race may not be an issue this time, the UAE campaign has suffered slightly from time constraints and their VO70 was the last of the new generation boats to be launched, only sailing for the first time at the start of this month. While Puma, Groupama and Telefonica all have new VO70s boats from Juan Kouyoumdjian, who obviously designed the last two winning boats ABN AMRO One and Ericsson 4, the new UAE boat is from Farr Yacht Design. Farr obviously know a thing or two about the fully crewed round the world race, their boats having been at the forefront of the race since the early 1980s, with back to back wins from Peter Blake’s Steinlager 2 maxi ketch in 1989 through until John Kostecki’s illbruck Challenge in 2001-2, but their designs have obviously lost out to the dominant Argentinian in the last two fully crewed round the world races. So was choosing Farr a brave move? In fact, for Ericsson 4 the last Volvo Ocean Race was not the run-away success enjoyed by Mike Sanderson’s winning ABN AMRO One team in 2005-6. The Farr-designed Telefonica Blue ended up winning two of the legs into Singapore and Qingdao as well as four in-port races, while her sistership, Telefonica Black, claimed the final leg into St Petersburg. One of the reasons Ian Walker says Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing chose Farr as its designer was that the Annapolis-based design house was “hungry” to return to its previous success in the round the world race. This was also one of the reasons the Abu Dhabi team got into bed with