Published: Friday, 10 July 2015

Skipper Ian Walker and the victorious Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew have presented His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, with the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 trophy.

Volvo Winners Present Trophy To Abu Dhabi Crown Prince 7

(Photo: Ian Roman/ Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)

The all-conquering crew of eight also claimed the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series Trophy on June 27 in the Swedish port of Gothenburg, among several other victories including the IWC 24-Hour Speed Record Challenge and the Inmarsat Onboard Reporter Award, won by Matt Knighton (USA).

The crew met the chairman of backers Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, during the visit to the team's home country.

Volvo Winners Present Trophy To Abu Dhabi Crown Prince 6

(Photo: Ian Roman/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)

Walker believes that only part of the mission has been completed following victory in the nine-month offshore race. He still has an ambition to grow the sport of sailing in the region.

“It’s a great sport, it’s healthy, it’s outdoors and the climate’s fantastic, certainly nine months of the year - with ideal sailing conditions,” says Walker. “Hopefully, we can use this win as a springboard to build on. And I think it’s already happening. You see more and more boats off the Corniche here in Abu Dhabi. But we’d really like to see that grow 10-fold over the next few years.”

Many have asked whether Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will return for a third Volvo Ocean Race campaign, but TCA Abu Dhabi has made it clear that no decision will be made for several months.

Volvo Winners Present Trophy To Abu Dhabi Crown Prince 5

(Photo: Ian Roman/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)

“Hopefully, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the Tourism & Culture Authority will come up with new ways to move sailing forward and we’ve created this fantastic brand,” says Walker. “For sure I’d love to be involved again and I hope it moves forward in a way that I can be involved.”

The campaign’s chief supporters have applauded the achievement of Walker and his men.

“The Volvo Ocean Race is rightly regarded as the ‘Everest of Sailing’, the pinnacle of offshore sailing challenges, and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has made it to the top,” says Sheikh Sultan. “I am tremendously proud of our skipper Ian Walker, our Emirati sailor, Adil Khalid, and all Azzam's crew for securing first place in the 2014-15 edition of the race.”

Volvo Winners Present Trophy To Abu Dhabi Crown Prince 8

(Photo: Ian Roman/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)

“It is another landmark achievement for the United Arab Emirates and the team has represented our emirate with bravery, distinction, and skill.”