by Louay Habib
After a perfect start in the Dubai to Muscat Race, the IRC Division is well under way. The front runners passed Ras al-Khaimah during the night and are approaching the Strait of Hormuz.
Dubai to Muscat Race 2013
Irish Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners has enjoyed a spectacular reach along the Arabian Gulf, as Adrian Lee explained via Thuraya Satellite phone.
'I will never forget the start, it was a totally knew experience racing past the Dubai skyscrapers in warm breeze and brilliant sunshine. Approaching nightfall, we had to make our first big tactical decision; inshore for land breeze or offshore for gradient wind. We tacked out and it looks to have paid off, as the gradient breeze from the north just about held and we kept moving but at times, only just. However, what a night, dolphins came to visit us and shooting stars and thousands of others were utterly amazing. I have never seen a night sky like it.'
This morning, Lee Overlay Partners is back up to full speed. Just before dawn, the Irish Cookson 50 tacked onto Port to lay the Strait of Hormuz and the breeze seems to be lifting the overall towards the strait with a boat speed in excess of 8 knots, the leader should past through to the Indian Ocean this afternoon. Lee Overaly Partners’ closest rival on the water is the hi-tech XS35 catamaran, Blackwater with a team from Southern California, skippered by Matt Vukelich.
Meanwhile the bulk of the fleet opted for the inshore option and suffered from the decision. Doug and Claire Hassell’s First 44.7, Diablo made great gains on the first day, at one point the British team was ahead of Lee Overlay Partners. However, as the breeze faltered at dusk, Diablo’s progress slowed. On the water Diablo is now over ten miles behind Lee Overlay Partners but racing under the IRC measurement system, Diablo was the leader after time correction.
DOSC Rear Commodore, David Worrall racing First 36.7, Shahrazad reported last night via Thuraya Satellite connection. 'The wind has died inshore and with about a knot of current against us, we had to put down our anchor, so that we would not go backwards. All we can do now is wait for the morning and hope that wind will arrive.'
The wind looks to be shifting to a north easterly direction today, which means that Lee Overlay Partners are gaining from the change, whilst yachts inshore have got the wrong side of the shift. Jean Girard, sailing Two-handed with his wife, aboard First 34.7, Dame Jeanne looks very well placed after IRC time correction and also well placed offshore to take advantage of the shift.
Today, the Dubai to Muscat Race will enter a crucial stage. Weather forecasts predict building breeze in the Gulf of Oman. However to get to the fresh wind, first the fleet must pass through the Strait of Hormuz. The narrow gateway to the Indian Ocean is notorious for ocean currents and squalls and the scenery is breathtaking. The rugged fjords of the Mussandam Peninsular, south of the Strait of Hormuz, are often described as the Norway of the East.
The 22nd Dubai to Muscat Race is organised under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing club. HH Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nehayan was the guest of honour for the start. The 360-mile race is the longest offshore yacht race in the region and is organised by The United Arab Emirates Sailing and Rowing Federation in association with the Ministry of Sports Affairs, the Sultanate of Oman.