Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s hot streak shows no sign of ending with Azzam completing a hat-trick in the highly competitive model Volvo Open 70 regatta at the Lisbon Race Village.
Sailors and shore crew from the six teams took time out to race the one-metre scale models around the marina.
After winning the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race and Leg 7, Paul “Big Breeze” Willcox made it three in a row for the Emirati team with a comprehensive victory that saw mini-Azzam win three of the four short races.
“It was a great success for us,” said a beaming Wilcox. “I just wanted to do better than Rob Greenhalgh who has been skippering the boat until now. It’s great to keep the momentum going after winning the last two races. Let’s just hope our good form continues this weekend for the in-port race.”
Groupama sailing team, skippered by shore crew member Luc “Mr Rules” Gellusseau claimed second spot thanks to victory in the fourth and final race, pipping Abu Dhabi to the finish line by a matter of seconds.
“It’s the second time in a week we have finished second to Abu Dhabi,” he said. “You have to hand it to Big Breeze, he sailed the best but we are still happy with second place.”
The biggest cheer of the afternoon was saved for PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, who had shore crew member Murray McDonnell at the helm. The 61-year-old, better known as Murph" or “Nipper”, claimed third spot for the American boat.
After coming last in the first race, McDonnell had a surprise visitor on the pontoon.
“It wasn’t going well for me until Kenny Read showed up and we made a few tweaks here and there,” Murphy said. “Kenny was watching from the big boat and decided to come down after watching me make a mess of the first race, so I have to thank the boss for our third place.”
Team Telefonica came fourth with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand fifth.
It was a day to forget for David Swete and Team Sanya. After claiming second place in the first race, disaster struck in the second with Sanya Lan dismasting shortly after the start. Despite attempts to repair the stricken vessel, the damage was too severe for her to race again.
Race director Bill O’Hara praised the skill of the six skippers. “I believe that was the best racing we’ve seen so far,” O’Hara said. “It’s also a little strange that the six boats finished in exactly the same order as they did in Leg 7.”
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