by Nicky Moore
Sailing Arabia - The Tour 2012 (SATT) is an international regatta organised by Oman Sail which is being held from 12 to 27 February. The first leg concluded in darkness in Doha, Qatar, last night (13 February) with Daniel Souben’s Courrier Dunkerque claiming a leg one victory for the all-French team.
Sunset sailing - Courrier Dunkerque - Sailing Arabia - The Tour 2012
Souben’s crew led the nine-strong fleet from start to finish, rounding the windward top mark in clear air ahead of closest rivals Bertrand Pace on Team Commercial Bank (Qatar), and Cedric Pouligny, Team BAE Systems (OMA).
Souben continued to pile on the pressure in fast downwind sailing conditions and eventually crossed the finish line 31min 32sec ahead of Team BAE Systems with Team Commercial Bank finishing a close third.
Another notable performance was that of Arabian sailor Ahmed Al Mamari and his all Omani crew on Team Renaissance which finished a credible fourth after holding onto second place for all but 20 miles of the 241 kilometre leg. Al Mamari says it was a good result for his crew and that things might have played out differently had they not had a brief encounter with a wayward fishing net.
'We were in second place and holding position against Team BAE Systems and Team Commercial Bank when we ran into the net. Despite stalling for a few minutes while we cleared our keel I’m proud of the way my crew sailed and we’ll continue to improve as the race progresses.'
One spot back, the UK’s Dee Caffari’s all women-crew sailing Al Thuraya Bank Muscat finished a close fifth and was amongst the front runners for most of the race. Commenting at the end of the leg, Caffari said her amateur Omani crew sailed the race of their lives and believes there is a lot more gas in the tank yet.
'The crew work onboard was pretty good but it will get better and I believe that we’re a real podium chance as our communications as a crew improve. It was a great downwind leg and valuable time for the girls sailing with a spinnaker from the top mark to the finish.'
The second leg of the race sails from The Pearl Marina, Doha south to Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club on Wednesday February 15 (1000 hours local time) and is the longest and most challenging of the tour covering 296 kilometres. Meanwhile the fleet will get valuable practice today (Tuesday) with a series of short in-shore races where they will sail with a extra non-professional guest onboard, giving a chance for VIP’s and media to be part of the action. These races do not count for points but will give the crews some valuable time on the water.
Over the course of 15 days of racing, the fleet will cover 1,408 kilometers, sailing from Bahrain, to Qatar, before heading to the UAE where they will visit Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah. They will then take in three stops in Omani waters – Musandam, Mussanah and the final port in Oman’s capital, Muscat.
All boats are fitted with on board tracking. You can follow the fleet here.
Results from first leg including finishing time:
Ranking/Name Of Team/Finish Time
1. Courrier Dunkerque 20.47.50
2. Team BAE Systems 21.01.02
3. Team Commercial Bank 21.04.45
4. Team Renaissance 21.06.21
5. Al Turaya Bankmuscat 21.16.50
6. Team Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia 21.27.23
7. Team Bahrain 21.27.25
8. Muscat 2012 21.39.05
9. Team Ras Al Kaihmah 21.50.46
Sailing Arabia - The Tour website