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Published on : Monday, November 4, 2013
Adil Khalid – the 25-year-old Emirati hero who in 2012 became the first Arab sailor to participate in the Volvo Ocean Race – came face-to-face with his own ‘hero’ at this week’s F1® Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Adil – who has previously represented the UAE sailing laser class in the 2008 Beijing Olympics – caught up with Sir Ben Ainslie, the 36-year-old British sailing phenomenon who is the most successful sailor in Olympic history, on the deck of ADOR’s ‘Azzam’ training boat which made its own ‘star’ appearance at the Grand Prix.
Sir Ben, who won medals at five consecutive Olympics from 1996-2012, including gold at four, was keen to spur the young Emirati’s hopes for podium success in ADOR’s 2014/2015 Volvo Ocean Race bid.
“ADOR’s sailing yacht is very aptly named ‘Azzam,’ which means determination,” said ADOR Skipper and fellow sailing Olympian Ian Walker. “Basically ‘Azzam’ is what it takes to get to the top and to keep on staying there. Both Sir Ben and Khalid epitomise that ‘Azzam’ spirit.”
For Adil, who beat off over 120 hopefuls to carry the UAE hopes in the 2011/2012 ADOR debut race series and is among the crew for the team’s 2014/2015 Volvo Ocean Race bid, the meeting with Sir Ben was a long-fulfilled ambition.
“If you are into sailing – Ben is the supremo – and who wouldn’t want to meet the man who really is a role model to all of us aspiring champions. I wanted to know what drives him, what keeps him going and keeps him at the top. The answer was quite simple really sheer hard work and determination – of course there is sometimes a bit of help from the weather. However, weather conditions aside, it’s quite plain that if I’m to live up to my role model, I’ve got to keep ‘Azzam’ in my heart and push to the limits.”
The two sailing sensations took time out to explore other common ground.
“Representing Great Britain at my home Olympics in 2012 has to be one of the proudest moments of my career, so I can understand how driven Adil is to put in a great performance for his country. I wish the whole crew of Abu Dhabi Racing the best of luck in next year’s Volvo Ocean Race,” said Sir Ben.
Other similarities shared by the sailing heroes are that both come from sailing families. Sir Ben’s father captained a boat that took part in the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973 – the event which has morphed into the Volvo Ocean Race.
“I’m also from a sailing family – which got me my start at a very early age, and which makes them keen to support my sporting ambitions,” said Adil.
The two also started out racing Lasers with Sir Ben taking the World Championship title several times and Adil representing the UAE in this class at the 2008 Olympics.
Both too are great ambassadors for sailing within their respective countries encouraging more youngsters to get out onto the water.
“This is my first visit to Abu Dhabi, but from what I have seen it’s a great winter sailing venue and I hope Adil and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing can continue to capture the imagination of the UAE and Gulf region to bring more young people into the sport of sailing,” added Sir Ben.
Source:- Abu Dhabi Tourism