EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is coming up and Sidney Gavignet has signed on to skipper for EFG Bank (Monaco). The freedom of racing in shorts and t-shirts during the northern hemisphere winter is part of the draw for international sailing legends to join EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour. The 15 day, 760 nautical mile race sees some of sailing’s best travel down the Gulf coast from Bahrain to Oman, giving legends like Sidney Gavignet an experience like no other, a chance to work with and compete with some of the best sailors from the region and from around the world.
'It is a fantastic thing to race competitively in such warm weather conditions in February when Europe is at its coldest,' said Gavignet, an Olympic and Volvo Ocean Racing winning skipper who says he is gathering a specialist coastal racing crew to win his second consecutive Tour in 2014 as helm of the sponsor’s campaign entry EFG Bank (Monaco).
'I love the competitiveness of the event’s one design racing in Farr 30’s. I also like discovering a beautiful coastline that I don’t normally visit. My strategy is to have a totally different team this time and surround myself with specialists. The ultimate goal is winning EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014.'
Launched by Oman Sail in 2011 and modelled on the Tour de France à la Voile, the EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour 2014 will be held from 9 – 24 February. It calls at eight world class marinas in four nations starting from Bahrain and following a course to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates to the finish in Oman’s beautiful capital city, Muscat. 'The local hospitality in each different country is so welcoming,' said Gavignet who finished a podium third place in 2013.
When speaking of the racing conditions in the Gulf Gavignet said, 'The region’s racing has demanding offshore legs and very intense inshore port racing which is something I like. The coastline is spectacular with big mountains falling into the sea. I really like the Oman coastline especially the Musandam Peninsula which is separate to the rest of Oman and has rocky islands. It is pretty impressive, so we’ll need an impressive crew.'
As part of the crew there will be Cedric Pouligny, top Irish trimmer Shane Hughes, Olympian Damien Desprat from Monaco, Omani’s Ali Al Balushi and Mohammed Al Mujani and specialist French navigator Fabien Delahaye. Delahaye is a member of the French offshore team; he won his class in the Transat Jaques Vabre, won other double handed races on the famed racing yacht Figaro and is experienced in coastal racing having done a few Tour de France à la Voile.
'With these specialists on board I think we will have a good chance in 2014,' said Gavignet.
Showing his support for the upcoming race and new team, George Catsiapis, Managing Director, EFG International stated, 'EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour continues to inspire young people with incredible displays of teamwork, skill and talent on the water and we are proud to be the title sponsor and we look forward to the start of the race. As title sponsor of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour and sponsor of EFG Bank (Monaco), we would like to wish Sidney Gavignet and the whole EFG Bank team fair winds.'
Issa Al Ismaili, Oman Sail Event Director said entries by some of the world best sailors like Gavignet and Pouligny was indicative of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour’s growing reputation as a world class championship.
'In just three years the event has established the Middle East as one of the popular warm winter events of the international sailing calendar. It is recognised as an exceptional international yacht racing destination with unbeatable sailing conditions and its unique course offers a rare coastal tour of some great Gulf nations and their first class in port facilities,' said Ismaili.
'It is a wonderful introduction to the culture, ancient traditions, culinary delicacies, and beautiful natural and built environments of the region. It is a captivating experience and competitors enjoy it so much they return again and again every year.'
EFG Bank (Monaco) crew list:
Sidney Gavignet, Skipper, France
Cedric Pouligny, France
Fabien Delahaye, France
Shane Hughes, Ireland
Ali Hashim Al Balushi, Oman
Mohammed Al Mujani, Oman
Damien Desprat, Monaco
by Daphne Morgan Barnicoat
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1:24 PM Wed 15 Jan 2014GMT
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