by Oman Sail
iN THE EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014, the region’s only long distance offshore sailing endurance race between Bahrain and Muscat, a consistent performance throughout the 15 days of racing including a second place in today’s Leg seven, was enough for EFG Bank (Monaco) to be crowned overall winner.
Leg seven mussanah-Muscat. EFG Bank (Monaco),Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team (EU),Team Delft Challenge – TU Delft (NED),Team Renaissance (OMA),Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat (OMA),Royal Navy of Oman (OMA) - EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014
The winner of Leg seven, after a really exciting close race to The Wave, Muscat, the Tour’s final destination, was Kay Heemskerk and his young team of students on Team Delft Challenge – TU Delft. This final impressive result confirms third place overall.
Overall winner Sidney Gavignet and his professional team on EFG Bank (Monaco) finished the 760-nautical mile Tour with an impressive scoreline of eight wins in a mix of both offshore and inport races.
Forty-one-year-old Gavignet – Olympian and winning Volvo Ocean Race skipper – who put together a strong team for this event including leading French sailors Cedric Pouligny and Damien Iehl, plus two of Oman’s best sailors – Ali Al Balushi and Mohammed Al Mujaini – sailed impressively throughout the series using their vast amount of experience to help extend their early lead. They finished with a six point clear margin over Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team skippered by Marcel Herrera.
Chatting as he stepped ashore, Gavignet commented: 'It is a good job done. I am very happy for the crew and EFG, and for Monaco also because we were flying the Monaco Yacht Club colours. It is a great, great race with fantastic competition. Every leg we were fighting and we only ever won by a close margin.'
EFG Bank (Monaco) was under constant threat from the exceptionally strong youth contingent – the European Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team, and today’s final race winner, Team Delft Challenge – TU Delft.
The young crew on Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team, whose average age is just 26, gave the EFG Bank (Monaco) team plenty to think about throughout the series. Although they only won one leg of the Tour and two Inport races, their consistency, with a string of second places, was what kept them in contention.
Twenty-one-year-old Marcel Herrera – Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team’s skipper – was thrilled to have finished second overall: 'It is fantastic and a really great result for the team. We were always at the top with anything from a first to a third and had consistent results so I am really proud of the guys because second is fantastic for us.
'We will be back for sure and we'll do everything we can to promote this Tour because it is a seriously great event.'
Kay Heemskerk and team on Team Delft Challenge – TU Delft made a promising debut at last year’s event finishing fourth but proved that, by focusing on intense training in the lead up to this event, they were able to deliver the result they were looking for – a podium position.
They had to beat American Katie Pettibone, skipper of Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat’s all women’s team to ensure their place on the podium. A final race win for the Dutch boys was more than enough.
Heemskerk said: 'Winning today was one of the highlights of the event. We focused on the girls on the first beat and, once ahead, we were able to sail our own race and manage to keep ahead of EFG Bank.
'I feel amazingly happy to have won today, and to have achieved our goal of a position on the podium. I will be back next year because it is such a beautiful area to sail. I hope that more Europeans take time to consider racing this event because it is unique and highly competitive.'
At the closing ceremony and overall prizegiving held at the Oman Sail headquarters at The Wave, Muscat, competitors and guests were honoured with the presence of His Excellency Sayyid Hamoud Bin Faisal Albusaidi – Minister of Interior.
David Graham, Oman Sail CEO said he was impressed by the standard of competition: 'The fourth edition of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour has produced a stronger than ever level of competition. I am particularly pleased to see the healthy mix of youth, women, regional and professional sailors develop into a highly competitive, international fleet.
'The vision by Oman Sail to develop the region’s sailing talent and reignite the rich maritime heritage has become a reality. EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour has offered an unrivalled opportunity to showcase the region as an exceptional international race destination with its splendid sailing conditions, and fascinating mix of ancient traditions and modern sophistication. I believe this year’s event has really strengthened that image and has put the Middle East on the map as a prime international yachting location.'
George Catsiapis, managing director of EFG Bank in Monaco added: 'I would like to congratulate all the teams for completing the 760-nautical mile race, and Sidney Gavignet and his team EFG Bank (Monaco) in particular, for their impressive performance, which resulted in an overall win. It has been great to see such a high level of racing in this year's edition of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour.'
Ghasi Humaid AL Hashmi, Deputy Director General of Tourism Promotion, Oman Ministry of Tourism was also present and was keen to congratulate the sailing teams: 'The Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT) 2014 has definitely helped in promoting the rich Arab heritage, culture, and traditions of Oman. Sailing enthusiasts from around the world came and participated in this major sporting event that further bolstered the country’s tourism sector and highlighted its vast maritime potential.
We would like to congratulate all winners and participants in this competition and we hope to see you all again next year. We would also like to commend our sailors who brought pride to our country by competing with other international teams. Lastly, we would like to thank the organizers who worked hard to ensure the success of SATT 2014.'
EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour 2014 results