EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014 - After an extremely close, tactical race from Ras Al Khaimah to Dibba, Sidney Gavignet and team on EFG Bank (Monaco) narrowly beat 21-year-old Marcel Herrera and UK students on Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team, to win Leg five of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014.
This 104-mile leg is not only one of the most challenging as far as tactics go but it is also one of the most interesting because it takes the fleet 50 miles up and around the Omani Peninsula and 50 or so miles down the other side to Dibba in Oman, an area known for its rugged mountain ranges that rise up to 2,100 metres.
The conditions were fairly true to form and the race became a game of two halves, with the first segment of the race blessed with good, power-reaching conditions up to 17kts, and the second segment down the other side of the peninsular dogged by light, shifty winds in the lee of the mountains.
Leg 5 (Ras Al Khaimah - Dibba - © Lloyd Images
Speaking after yesterday’s race, David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail said, 'This race in particular highlights the variety of sailing conditions our regional waters have to offer sailors from the region and around the world.
Around every bend is a different challenge that tests sailor’s abilities while also showcasing the beauty of the Arabian Gulf. Oman Sail aims to enrich the sailing culture here in the region, and through EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014 is able to do just that.'
Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team reveled in the fantastic conditions and led the opening10-hour stint from the first mark but when the race effectively re-started at the top of the peninsular, Katie Pettibone and her all girl team on Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat, EFG Bank (Monaco), Kay Heemskerk and Team Delft Challenge – TU Delft, and Team Renaissance, skippered by Mohsin Al Busaidi, all led at some stage.
Sidney Gavignet skipper of EFG Bank (Monaco) who, with an eight and half point clears overall lead, said this leg was the highlight of his Tour so far. 'It was a memorable and interesting leg. It was also a very tight race and we were first, last at different points in the race. It would have been so easy to finish fourth or fifth, in fact we nearly did because we were trailing as we approached the finish line.
EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014 - R1
'We made a good tactical move at the last moment and sailed outside a small island to pick up a bit more wind, then 100m off the finish line we got stuck in a hole but just got lucky enough to cross in front of Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team but by just over a minute.'
Marcel Herrera commented: 'It was an enjoyable race but tough and really hard to hold a lead. We worked hard and were pleased to hang on to our 10-hour lead in the first part of the race but when the wind went fickle through the Straits and down the other side, it was anyone’s guess who would come out on top and hence we all took a turn at leading at some point.'
The all-girl team on Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat skippered by Katie Pettibone finished in third place. Like most of the fleet, this team took its turn at the front and is pleased to have kept Team Delft Challenge – TU Delft behind in the closing stages of the race, to finish third, which leaves them in third overall at this stage of the Tour.
Katie Pettibone commented: 'The leg was one of ups and downs. We had wonderful downwind legs, led the race for a while, and it was great to finally be able to round the peninsular in the light, unlike previous years. It was also frustrating at time particularly the shifts on the last stretch. Every time we tacked we seemed get headed but hey, we finished third and we are pleased with that.'
EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014 - R1
Ghasi Humaid Al Hashmi, Deputy Director General of Tourism Promotion, Oman Ministry of Tourism: 'The annual ‘Sailing Arabia — The Tour (SATT)’ event attracts participants from all over the globe and this year’s event is no different, with the garnered international attention benefiting the entire Gulf region greatly, as it bids to become the world’s top sailing and cruising destination.
The competition bolsters the region’s reputation to hold such a major and important event. At home, we gladly cheered for our Omani sailors who competed in this year’s successful contest--bringing pride and honor to our country, as their efforts undoubtedly boost the country’s sports and tourism sectors by showing off their talents to an international audience. Our sailors also served as an inspiration to our youth back home by encouraging them to be more involved in this sport and in its potential in our country.
We are gathered today to personally congratulate not just the winners of the competition but all those who participated. We look forward to seeing you all again next year. '
The EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014 is set on a 760-nautical mile course that spans over four countries from Bahrain to Oman, with eight of the region’s premier marinas playing host as stopover venues during the seven legs of the course.
For the next two days the fleet is based at Six Senses Zighy Bay located in a large natural harbour at Musandam Peninsula in the Sultante of Oman. Here crews can enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and prepare for tomorrow’s final Inport races to be held in the bay.
EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour 2014 results
Arrival at Six Senses Zighy Bat Resort - © Lloyd Images