Alicante - British skipper Ian Walker steered Abu Dhabi through testing conditions to claim victory in the opening event of the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday.
Abu Dhabi won the opening in-port race in Alicante by a huge margin of 14 minutes, 14 seconds. Walker took control at the first mark with a slick sail change, and coped well with a sudden drop in wind.
Walker said, "It was very tricky on the water and none of us expected it to be. We thought it would be strong winds out there. We did well ... It's a great start."
Puma, skippered by experienced American Ken Read, was second ahead of Camper (New Zealand/Spain), Team Sanya (China), Groupama (France) and Telefonica (Spain) in the six-yacht race.
The first offshore leg begins Novemeber 5. The boats are expected to reach the finish line in Galway, Ireland in July 2012.