Azzam emerges from Green Marine
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s new Volvo Ocean 65 yacht – Azzam (meaning determination) - has emerged gleaming into the light of day at the Green Marine production facility near Southampton.
Looking on intently as Azzam was carefully edged out of its massive hanger for the first time were ADOR Skipper Ian Walker and seven of the eight man international crew he’s hand-picked for October's round the world race.
“When you’re preparing to take on the Volvo Ocean Race there are plenty of milestones along the way,” said Walker. “Azzam coming out of the shed is, of course, a very significant milestone. Now the mast is stepped she finally feels like she’s ours. I can’t wait to get her on the water and sailing.”
Azzam’s emergence from the shed gave fans around the world an early glimpse of her new yellow, silver and red livery which took a specialist paint spraying team more than 1,900 man hours to complete.
“She looks fantastic,” said Walker. “The design is very complex with lots of subtle colour shading involved. I think the painters have done an amazing job to bring the whole thing to life. Just wait until you see the full effect when the sails are up.”
Next on the agenda for the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed yacht are several days of shore based structural tests before it’s loaded onto a barge to be transported across to deeper water at Southampton Docks for launching.
An official naming ceremony will take place this summer, but in the meantime the ADOR team plans to have a simple private ceremony to commemorate Azzam’s first launch.
More days of testing will follow - including a ‘pull-down’ test in which Azzam is hauled over on her side until her mast lies almost horizontal on the water - before the ADOR crew can take her out for final sea trials.
When the tests are complete Walker’s crew will take the new Azzam on her first offshore voyage to ADOR’s pre-race training base in Cascais, Portugal. The team is tracking the weather carefully and is hoping for a break in the pattern of storms which have battered and flooded the UK over the last few weeks, to allow them to set off around 11 March.