Monday, August 2, 2010

Abu Dhabi to enter team in Volvo 2011

'Ian Walker' Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race ©
By Stuart Alexander in Cowes -

A $25m tie-up between Britain and the Middle East is expected to be unveiled today as the oil rich emirate of Abu Dhabi adds international yacht racing to its Formula 1 sports portfolio.

It has already been announced that it will host the Volvo round the world race as one of the 2011-12 stopovers and has an option to extend that to the 2014-15 race. At the same time it announced it would enter a team and build a new boat for the 2011 race.

To manage the project it has called in Britain ’s double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker as skipper and his business partner Jamie Boag, both of whom were at the heart of the Irish and Chinese partnership behind the Green Dragon partnership.

They are expected to bring in a top US-based designer – they used Reichel-Pugh last time but have been talking to Bruce Farr - and to call on the boat building expertise of the Australian yacht builders McConaghy, who established a facility in China when building the Dragon and would do the same in Abu Dhabi .

Although budget should not be a problem, time is already short. This makes the fifth new boat to be announced for the 2011 Volvo, which starts from its new headquarters in Alicante , Spain on 5 November next year. The fleet is expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi , via Cape Town and the pirate-infested Indian Ocean , on New Year’s Day 2012.

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