We welcome you all to the first day of Sail the Gulf Regatta 2014, hosted in the beautiful city of Doha, Qatar. This annual event now in its 22nd year continues to grow and enjoys great success attracting sailors from around the world. In the middle of winter, Doha offers guaranteed warmth, sun and perfect racing conditions, which combined with the outstanding organization and hospitality of the Qatar Sailing and Rowing Federation, make this an event not to miss.
Almost 200 sailors from more than 20 countries are participating in the regatta across eight different fleets. The depth of talent from so many nations, provides a great opportunity for the Qatari sailors to measure themselves and their performance level against an international fleet.
The Race Committee pushed for a full schedule of racing today, opting for three races across each fleet - as the forecast later in the week may impact racing. The race course locations are quite unique, set against the dramatic background of Doha city, with impressive skyscrapers rising out of the ground to dominate the skyline. Out on the clear water race tracks, the breeze was up, with about 15-20 knots across both race courses. All racing got underway on schedule with the fleets ready and full of enthusiasm for the first day of racing.
Racing was on two race courses, one located very close to shore for the smaller dinghy classes, including the Optimist sailors and 4.7 Laser fleets. The other was further off the shore, for the six other dinghy classes and more experienced sailors, including the colourful Hobie 16 multihull fleet, the Olympic 470 Men and 470 Women classes, 420 girls and boys, Laser Standard and Laser Radial.
In the Optimist fleet, which fields the largest number of entries competing here, Portugal ruled the waves – but only just, as whilst the young Tomas Barreto sits in first from his 7,3,1 scoreline.
Russia’s Eygeny Vasilyev scored a perfect hat trick of race wins in the Laser 4.7, dominating the fleet and taking a strong early lead. But behind him, racing was close, very close - with Bahrain’s Issa Aldoseri claiming second place in every race to end the day in second, and Qatar’s Saleh Telfat sealing third place in every race to sit in third.
Some great racing in the Laser Radial, but results from today are still being finalized.
Today was certainly a day for Malaysian sailors, with Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy knocking out race win after race win, to wrap up victory in every race. He was pushed hard by Qatar’s Waleed Al Sharshani, who finished close behind in second place for races 2 and 3, and ends the day in second overall. Pakistan’s Muhammad Tanveer put in a consistent package of 6,5,3 to end his day in third overall.
A mixture of European, Middle East and Asian nations are contesting the 420 fleet, but today it was Malaysia who again set the pace with Ahmad Syukri and Mohammed Faizal Norizan winning every race, in a stylish display of strategy and boat handling.
Malaysian teams also dominated in the 470 fleet, with some Olympic aspirants in the lineup. Moh Akiyuddin and Mohammad Harisuddin won every race, with team mates and the top female team Khairunnnisa Binti and Norashikin Binti Mohamad Sayed finishing close behind to claim second place in every race and end the day in second overall.
Teams from Germany, Kazakhstan, Egypt and Qatar are battling it out in the Hobie 16 fleet, but the strong winds today kept a few of the boats off the race course. Germany’s Steven Ulrich and Alex Gail had a close battle with Kazakhstan’s Galymzhan and Kuanyshov, with just one point between them after three races, and advantage to Germany.
A repeat of today is forecast for tomorrow here at Sail the Gulf Regatta, so great racing conditions are on the cards again with another three races scheduled for each fleet. Come back and join the action here in Doha, Qatar.