Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the overall leader of the Volvo Ocean Race, will lean on an imposing figure to connect with local fans during Saturday’s Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Newport.
Towering ice hockey defenseman Zdeno Chára of the Boston Bruins will join the crew of Azzam, led by skipper Ian Walker, as the team’s celebrity guest for the one-hour inshore sprint around Narragansett Bay.
Chára, the captain of the Bruins, stands 6-foot-9 and is 7 inches taller than ADOR’s tallest sailor, navigator Simon Fisher. Chára also is the tallest player in the NHL ever and is widely acknowledged as having the fastest slap shot in the league at 108.8 mph (175.1 km/h).
“I’m excited to get the chance to race with a winning team like ADOR,” said Chára. “Their performance so far in this race has been remarkable and I’m looking forward to seeing them in action.”
UAE Olympian Adil Khalid, who sailed in the Laser at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, looks forward to meeting the NHL superstar. “It will be great to have a fearsome competitor like Zdeno sail with us. I don’t have much experience on ice, but I’m hoping we can get him to show us his hardest shot technique before we race,” said Khalid.