6 posts tagged Ian Walker
6 posts tagged Ian Walker
The final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race is almost here… after almost 9 months sailing around the world, team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is currently resting in the French port at Lorient. Having completed the 8th leg of the race from Lisbon in just over 5 days, the almost 2000 mile route provided challenging conditions for the Azzam and her crew. Skipper Ian Walker relayed his surprise that more boats didn’t break in the rough seas: “We’re coming off waves so hard that bunks are breaking down below from the weight of the people landing in them. So you can imagine the loads on everything else.”
Footage of the storms encountered during Leg 8
With these sorts of conditions in mind, we wanted to share some insight into what life is like on board the Azzam, and what the crew endures over the course of the race. You read about the design and build process of Azzam, and how crew work, rest, and sleep areas are taken into account – measures Walker elaborates on: “…when we are trying to sleep it is a tough time so we have to strap ourselves into our bunks so we don’t get flicked out.”
Conditions at sea faced by the Azzam and crew
Beyond the logistics of how to get sleep, or change clothes on a rocking boat there are the ever changing weather conditions that affect the daily activities of the crew. Crewmember Adil Khalid relates “…your eyes are sore from the blasting of the salt water, you are soaking wet and everyone is bruised and banged around from the constant slamming of the boat.” From his crewmate Anthony Nossiter, the effect of being at sea is that “Everything is wet or damp, and then we change a sail, we bring a whole new world of wet into the boat”.
The crew enjoying a relatively calm dusk at sea
The length of the VOR brings its own set of on-board challenges – “In a shorter Fastnet or Hobart yacht race, if you break something it’s all over. Here, it’s different - so your approach has to be different. You have to take the long view, keep working away, take the knocks and the gains…” (Ian Walker). When describing what it is like manning a boat with a small crew, Nossiter further explained: “…onboard Azzam it is all day and all night for the nine months of the race, plus the workload on theses boats is huge – huge.”
Some of the tough work faced every day during VOR
Despite an ever-changing climate and exhausting amount of work on board, Walker shares: “I have seen this team taken to the extreme, and what I saw was courage, spirit, pride and above all determination.” The Volvo Ocean Race involves “crossing oceans that break supertankers”, so the risk is high. But as Walker says he and Azzam’s crew are all aware of one thing in the challenge: there are “Big risks and huge rewards”.
The Azzam sailing into port at the finish of Leg 8
We at IWC can all relate to the result of putting spirit, pride, and determination into your work – we commend Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing for completing the second to last leg of this race, and look forward to Leg 9 and the spring to Galway.
Since the Azzam left port in Alicante to begin the Volvo Ocean Race, we have been bringing you updates on its round the globe journey. There have been stories on the crew and their sailing prowess, or on the conditions the team will face en route.
What you haven’t seen is what it takes to keep the Azzam in top shape. Until now. Much like the craftsmen and artisans at IWC create and maintain our timepieces to showcase their world class precision, so does the on-board and on-shore crew of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
After last week’s hull damage during Leg 5, it was determined that the Azzam needed 72 hours of repairs, leaving a small window before the in-port event at Itajai is scheduled to begin. This week, as we hear from Team Director Jamie Boag, adverse weather conditions have impacted the schedule and there are now 40 hours to complete the same amount of work.
From earlier in the race, an example of the equipment used to transport the Azzam
Doubling the number of boat builders assisting in the process (now at 8), and continuing to look at ways to save time are all part of the equation to get the Azzam ready to sail.
Azzam’s sails ready for review & repair
Boag and team continue to brainstorm other ways to fit the repairs in what is now a very tight timeframe: from employing a local ferry to more expediently transfer the ship container, to evaluating more time efficient repair methods.
While this starts to sound like a race within a race (which it is), Boag very seriously pointed out that there are still drying time for resins, and only so many hours the team can work. And most paramount: “We are also conscious of the old adage that more haste less speed. At the end of the day the repair has to be seaworthy.”
The Race is On: The crew brainstorms ways to save time on repairs
On-Shore crew leader Mike Danks noted that “The (repair) team is rested, determined and ready to go… all we need is Azzam.” She is now scheduled to arrive in Itajai on today (April 19) and we are sending support and best wishes to the repair crew for a speedy (and) safe return to racing!
This week we join the Volvo Ocean Race as it says ‘bom dia’ to the southern Brazilian port city of Itajai. After facing the grueling conditions of the Southern Ocean, the race’s boats and their crews will enjoy a sunny respite with In-Port races, average temperatures of 26 centigrade (80 fahrenheit), and a chance for recuperation.
Some rest and regrouping will be especially important for the crew of the Azzam, who suffered substantial hull damage off the Chilean coast during Leg 5. It took every member of the crew to play a part in maintaining the boat’s structural integrity as well as their own safety. As Skipper Ian Walker put it: “Only in adversity do you really get the full measure of a team’s strength…”. Despite extensive at sea repairs, Walker had to make the very difficult call to withdraw the Azzam from the fifth leg, and dock in Chile for on-shore repairs.
The crew strategizing urgent repairs at sea
Having the strength to make such a high-risk and challenging call is the mark of a true leader. Knowing when to make a temporary withdrawal, that can endeavor later success, is a difficult trait to exhibit but one that shows deep character. As the inspirational saying goes: “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”, and we commend Skipper Walker on his fortitude.
Azzam is now en route to Brazil, scheduled to arrive on April 17, four days before the crew begins In-Port race events. They’ll need 72 of those 96 hours to complete repairs, but then look forward to getting her back on the water.
Before disembarking for Leg 6 on April 22, the crew and their families can partake in Itajai’s varied outdoor activities: diving, fishing, hang-gliding, and more. They will also have a chance to experience the varied cuisines of the region, and learn about the vast cultural diversity the state of Santa Catarina has to offer.
The port in Itajai, Brazil
Volvo Ocean Race’s next leg, to Miami, Florida, is 3590 nautical miles and will take the crew back across the Equator. It will also take them back through the Doldrums, as well as other potential nautical challenges along the way. However we are confident that Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will again band together and show their strength during adversity.
Source: Volvo Ocean Race