UAE proud of Emirati trailblazer sailors
DUBAI // Ian Walker is the seafaring man so dedicated to fighting hostile waters, he may have just put the wave in unwavering. Sheikh Sultan bin Tahoon Al Nahyan is the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, which sponsors Walker's Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
Without each other, Thursday evening's remarkable achievement could never have been accomplished.
Portugal was the focal point in the early hours of yesterday morning as, moments after Azzam triumphed in the Transatlantic Leg 7 from Miami to Lisbon to become the first Arabian boat to win an offshore stage of the Volvo Ocean Race, Walker and his tired team performed what he later called "an outpouring of emotion".
The victory had been a long time coming. It was greeted in the UAE with patriotic pride.
"When we first began this project, we said we wanted to take Abu Dhabi's marine leisure proposition to the world and demonstrate, first hand, our powerful credentials to a highly influential professional yachting audience," Sheikh Sultan said.
"The team's unwavering determination to overcome all odds to clinch this historic win, under Walker's unwavering leadership, is testament to that promise, and serves as an inspiration that through hard work and dedication, endeavour has no limits."
Perfect proof of such endeavour can be found in the walking, talking figures of Adil Khalid and Butti Al Muhairi, the team's two Emiratis members.
Having helped Azzam cross the finish line six minutes ahead of their nearest rivals, Khalid was seen waving the UAE flag proudly.
"In Adil, who has served on the crew and Butti, on the shore team, we have two champions for Abu Dhabi that continue to trail-blaze a path for others to aspire to and hopefully encourage the people they meet to visit the emirate and sample all we have to offer, whether on land or on water," Sheikh Sultan added.
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE & Gary Meenaghan @GMeenaghan
Audio interview of Adil Khalid
Updated: June 1, 2012 04:00 AM