Adil Khalid and Daryl Wislang on board Azzam during the transatlantic race. The Abu Dhabi team will have their work cut out navigating Britain’s 2,900 kilometers of notoriously tricky coastline during the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Image Credit: Courtesy: Ador

Abu Dhabi: Emirati sailor Adil Khalid, who is part of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Volvo Ocean Race squad, will return to the team after recovering from illness.

The trimmer and helmsman was forced to skip legs four and five of the round-the-world yacht race after being struck down with food poisoning on the eve of the fleet’s departure from Sanya, China on February 8.

Since then, the 27-year-old has embarked on intensive rehabilitation in his hometown of Abu Dhabi, including a seven-day camp on Sir Bani Yas Island. He has also signed up to compete in the GCC Sailing Championships in an effort to regain his sea legs ahead of rejoining his crewmates aboard Azzam for the start of leg six, which departs Itajai, Brazil for Newport, USA on April 19.

“As part of my recovery plan, I stayed on Sir Bani Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, where I had a rigorous fitness plan. I did six hours in the gym every day and had a nutritionist and physical trainer on hand to monitor my progress,” said Khalid. “It was tough but now I’m fully cleared for action and right back up to the levels I have to be at to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race.”

Khalid, who was also attending the GCC Championships in his role as coach and mentor to the region’s young sailors, said he was itching to get back in the race, especially with his team leading the overall contest.

“The guys are doing brilliantly at the moment,” he added. “They’re on a strong and consistent streak with nine podium finishes in the last 10 in-port and leg races - and were leading on leg five the last time I checked the race tracker. And don’t forget their new speed record for the season,” he added of the 550.82 nautical miles they sailed in 24 hours as they approached Cape Horn last week.

“I’m desperate to get back to the boys and help keep this stretch going. I want to be onboard for all the remaining finish lines to raise the UAE flag, hopefully in triumph.

“The next leg I could compete in, leg six, is a really quick leg; straight sailing from Brazil up to Newport. Twelve to 15 days of fast, fast sailing, so I’m eager to get back for the excitement of that stage,” he added.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing recently rounded the infamous Cape Horn, off southern Chile, with minimal damage, and are currently leading leg five, from New Zealand to Brazil. They are expected to cross the leg five finish line in Itajaí on April 5th or 6th. Fans can follow the team’s progress via the race tracker at www.volvooceanrace.com.