Welcome to the final day of the renowned Sail the Gulf Regatta. Celebrating its 22nd edition this year, 2014 marked yet another successful event with great racing conditions on the first three days, and everything was now down to the final day of racing.
With an early start of 1100 hours, the Organizing Committee was planning another three races to complete the 11 race schedule series, which would also give the opportunity for sailors to discard their second worst result after race 10.
Conditions were the lightest of the series so far, with the breeze reaching up to six knots maximum, but very shifty and with variable pressure. Concentration was high, as the sailors had to really be careful on this crucial last day not to make any mistakes around the track and take advantage to seek out every bit of breeze.
In the Optimist fleet, the Malaysian sailors showed their expertise in light winds, dominating first and second overall, from the solid and consistent scorelines of Muhd Dhiauddin Rozaini and Naquib Eiman Sharin. A great outcome for Malaysia, with five of their sailors in the top 10 of the Optimist fleet overall. Third was Portugal’s Tomas Barreto. In the Laser 4.7, the series leader since day one, Russia’s Eygney Vasilyev, didn’t manage to score any race wins today, but still easily claimed first overall from his three third place finishes. Qatar’s Saleh Telfat couldn’t catch the Russian, but did wrap up two bullets to finish in second overall, with Turkey’s Ege Eros Guven in third.
While the wind seemed more stable in course area A, conditions were not ideal over on course area B, where the two person classes and the Laser standard and radial were racing. The wind shifted 50 degrees at times, forcing the Race Committee to abandon and restart several races, causing some major delays to the schedule. Despite the wind challenges, two races were competed for each of the five classes, albeit at a slow pace around the track. The Malaysian sailors were totally on fire, claiming wins in both the Laser Radial and Laser Standard. They dominated the two person dinghies as well, securing first, second and third places in the 420 fleet, whilst over in the 470 Olympic Class it was a first and second for Malaysia. Kazakhstan secured the Hobie 16 victory and second place – with strong performances.
All in all it, Sail the Gulf 2014 had a perfect combination of shoreside hospitality and organization and on water race management and weather conditions, and has proven itself as a Middle East success story. Doha Sailing Club, the host venue, has excellent facilities and with all equipment provided, the event is easily accessible to teams from around the world - who just have to fly in and go sailing.
It is always warm and sunny here in Doha and together with the reliable breeze - which serves up everything from strong to light conditions - makes Qatar a very attractive venue for sailing. The event had a bit of everything, from strong to light winds, always sunny and provided great memories for the almost 150 sailors.
Sail the Gulf wrapped up with a typically impressive and glamorous Medal and Closing Ceremony, showcasing a real flavor of Qatari hospitality. Alongside racing, the sailors have enjoyed the opportunity to discover some of the unique heritage and culture of Qatar, and you can be sure many have already committed to return for Sail the Gulf 2015. See you next year.