Abu Dhabi race fleet leaves for China
Abu Dhabi, January 14, 2012
After two-weeks of Volvo Ocean Race celebrations in Abu Dhabi, the five-strong fleet set sail on leg three of the round-the-world odyssey to Sanya, China to the rapturous cheers of thousands of fans.
Marking the occasion, and the handing over of the race baton to the southern Chinese destination, Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which was behind the emirate’s historic hosting of the race fleet, exchanged gifts with Vice Mayor of Sanya, Huang Shaowen, dockside at the UAE capital’s purpose built Race Destination Village.
'Today brings to an end a fantastic fortnight of history being made, of dreams being fulfilled. For the heroic crews, another leg begins - a daunting 4,600 nautical mile journey to Sanya,' said Al Muhairi.
'Both Abu Dhabi and Sanya are hosting this epic race for the first time, but our similarities go much further. We are both emerging tourism destinations, and share common goals for the future, as well as strong sea-faring heritages,' he remarked.
Drawing on Abu Dhabi’s centuries’ old maritime history, Al Muhairi drew parallels to the huge spectator turnout for the fleet send off to days past when local families would come down to the beach to wish their sea-going loved ones safe travel.
'In days of yesteryear, when our dhow sailors would ready to leave for months at sea, their families and friends would come down to the beach for a send off party to wish them luck and a good pearl harvest,' he said.
'The burning of incense would wish them a safe return,” he said, as the scent of incense wafted across the breakwater pontoons,' he added.
“Time may have gone by but some things do not change. As in the days of old, friends and families have once again gathered to see off their loved ones proving that sport can cross all cultural boundaries.”
The fleet, which includes local outfit, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, which snatched an emphatic victory in from of a 20,000 strong home crowd in the Etihad Airways In-Port Race on Friday, is expected to arrive at Sanya in three weeks time, after an arduous journey which sees them race from the Indian Ocean through the Malacca Straits, past Singapore and on to China.
The Volvo Ocean Race crews will then continue on the 39,000 mile Everest of Sailing to Brazil and USA before heading across the Atlantic Ocean to Portugal, France and Ireland, for the finish in July this year.
Abu Dhabi has made history in the Volvo Ocean Race by becoming the first Arabian destination to host the fleet as well as the first Middle Eastern entry to contest the 38-year-old event.-TradeArabia News Service