#VOR – Volvo Ocean Race fan and Irish Fireball champion, Kenneth Rumball, has won a trip to Miami, USA, to sail with Abu Dhabi backed outfit Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. The 24-year-old, from Dun Laoghaire County Dublin, says the chance to meet his heroes and sail on the team's Volvo Open 70 race yacht, Azzam (determination), in the gruelling round-the-world sailing event is a dream come true.
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of one of his heroes, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Irish bowman, Justin Slattery, a three-time Volvo Ocean Race veteran and event winner, Kenneth is relishing the chance to jump onboard and pick up some pointers from one of the sport's toughest professionals.
"I am a massive fan of the race and given the opportunity I would love to compete in it. I am very much looking forward to meeting Justin and all the crew of Azzam as well as the Abu Dhabi shore team; this is the pinnacle of the sport and I'm sure there is so much I can learn from them," said Kenneth, who runs and manages the Irish National Sailing, Powerboat School & Club, Eire's largest sailing school.
Kenny Rumball and Dad Alistair of the Irish National Sailing School are flying out to Miami
Kenneth entered a Facebook competition run by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority , which manages the Volvo Ocean Race contesting outfit, to win an ultimate VIP trip to Miami for the global sailing event's seventh stopover from 18 until 20 May 2012.
Having started sailing aged four under the guidance of his father Alistair, who will join him on the Miami trip, Kenneth has gone on to represent the 'Emerald Isle' at top international level in various classes including the Optimist World Team, Corpus Christi Texas 2002, ISAF Youth Worlds Korea 2005 in the 420 Class and the 420 Junior Europeans in Lake Garda Italy in 2005, where he picked up the bronze.
A determined sailor and boat builder, Kenneth choose to hold off going into the Olympics to concentrate on his studies, but he is chomping at the bit to get some more offshore sailing under his belt so he can perhaps one day be a part of the Volvo Ocean Race, which ends in Galway, Ireland in July.
"I chose not to go down the Olympic route as I became too busy with studies in college. I have been competing at international level in the Fireball class since and have done some offshore classic races including the Rolex Fastnet Race and Rolex Middle Sea race this year as helmsman, bowman and trimmer in a semi-professional capacity. In the future I would like to gain more offshore experience and compete in the Volvo Ocean Race for sure, maybe this chance in Miami with Abu Dhabi might just be that springboard," said Kenneth.
No stranger to Azzam and the team's double Olympic medal winning skipper, Ian Walker, Kenneth was on the water when the Abu Dhabi team powered to victory in the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race in the UK, where it smashed the monohull record on its first outing.
"I was in the same race as Azzam in the UK last year; she is a striking looking yacht. It'll be a totally different experience being onboard though, I can't wait," says Kenneth.
Having landed in Miami last weekend following the round-the-world race's sixth leg - a testing 4,800 nautical mile route from Itajai, Brazil, in which the team finished fifth - Walker and his crew now face the points-scoring In-Port Race on Saturday and the global sailing odyssey's Leg 7 start to Lisbon, Portugal, on Sunday.
Currently lying in fifth overall, the outfit – which boasts the first Gulf national to ever compete in the global sailing odyssey, Adil Khalid – is hoping to capitalise on its solid In-Port Race form, which has seen it win two of the stadium style races to date, in Alicante and at home in the United Arab Emirates capital last January.