ABU DHABI: There is a sense of quiet satisfaction when Adel Khalid speaks about his achievements. The 22-year-old Emirati made history as the first UAE sailor to take part in the Olympic Games and also became the first to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race by sailing for the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team.
"This was my dream. I am very fortunate that my dream has come true. Being a part of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and the Volvo Ocean Race is a life-changing experience," Khalid told XPRESS.
"It's not just the long days at sea, or the battle against the elements that changes you, but how you become so intertwined with being a team and the camaraderie you form with the other guys," the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing trimmer added.
Life's lessons learnt
"When I was at the Olympics, it was always about being on your own; you were the only one on board. Now there are 10 others that you need to work with. There are many life lessons to be learnt in the Volvo Ocean Race," said Khalid, whose team won the Etihad In-port Race in Abu Dhabi.
"Arriving into Abu Dhabi to all those cheers, then winning in front of so many friends, family and fans in the Etihad In-Port Race was just magical.
"One of the nicest experiences about the whole Abu Dhabi stopover was so many young kids came up to me with such a passion to get into the sport," said Khalid, who also competed in the Laser World Championship in Australia and International European Sailing Championship in Italy and Holland.
Khalid began chasing his dreams at a young age and moved up the ladder of success quickly. "I had some great support from UAE sailors and that really helped me grow as a professional. Being in the Olympics was a major chapter in my life as is the Volvo Ocean Race. I hope to help write more chapters in the future for Abu Dhabi and the UAE."
He added his skipper Ian Walker has been of immense help. "Ian Walker has been an inspiration from day one; he is very patient and takes the time to explain everything. We have learnt so much from him and from everyone else on the team."
The Volvo Ocean Racing entered the third round heading to China after leaving the Abu Dhabi shores last week. "We have truly experienced the ups and downs of the Volvo Ocean Race since starting. We tasted the highs of winning the in-port race in Spain, then dismasting only hours after starting leg one, which forced us to retire.
"Emotionally, it was very draining and there were some very scary moments. What has really amazed me is how the team held together and bounced back, and now we have won two events in a row. We are now ready to get on with the rest of the race."
Khalid's performance has been a source of inspiration for youngsters and he had a word of advice for aspiring Emiratis. "Train hard, never give up and start as young as you can. There are some great training facilities in Abu Dhabi."