Sailing Arabia - The Tour has perfect sailing conditions in Abu Dhabi greeting the fifty international sailors The Tour as they prepared for the third leg of the race. Blue skies, sunshine and a fresh breeze blew across the capital’s waterfront, giving the sailors a boost in morale as they head into tricky waters at night.
Starting at 4pm, the race will take the sailors through waters busy with shipping and dotted with exclusion zones and oil platforms. Much of the racing will be done at night and so crews must be alert at all times. Their destination is the Northern Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and the Al Hamra Marina. The first team is expected to arrive in the early afternoon of Saturday depending on the wind. The 232 mile course is forecast to be fairly quick as the wind will be from behind the boats, their fastest point of sail.
Team New Caledonia, the early favourites will be looking to move up into first place by the end of this leg, but current leaders, Renaissance, will fight them all the way to make sure that they stay on top. Saleh Al Jabri, the Omani skipper of Renaissance, also has a special guest on board for this leg, His Highness Sayyid Tariq, Director of Renaissance Services LLC, the sponsors of the boat. ‘To have His Highness Sayyid Tariq on board will be an honour. He was out training with us in Muscat so he knows what he is doing and will be an important member of the crew. Renaissance has been a fantastic sponsor for us as they have been very involved with the development of the Omani sailors on board this boat. It is because of them that we are here and in first place so to be able to share that with Sayyid Tariq will be both a pleasure and an honour.’ Said Saleh Al Jabri at a press conference at Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club before the fleet left.
His Highness Sayyid Tariq was looking forward to going sailing with the Omani sailors who have benefited from Renaissance’s long-term support, ‘I have sailed with the Extreme 40 sailors and got used to the very short races. These races last over a day and you experience sailing during the day and the night. You need to stay focused a lot longer and work as a team for long periods. It’s the first time for me to take part in a race like this but I have trained on these boats before. The Oman Sail sailors have been great and each one of them knows his role but they work together with incredible team spirit. I hope the Renaissance boat continues to lead the fleet and we at Renaissance Services will continue to support them in every way possible to develop young Omani sailors, present and future.’
Ahmad Thani Al Rumaithi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club, described Sailing Arabia-The Tour as a new and far-reaching chapter for sailing and marine sports in this region.?‘The event brings many benefits to the maritime scene in the Gulf in general and the UAE in particular.’ Rumaithi also commented the third leg that started today from Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaimah highlights the continuity of the tour’s success especially since the voyage started in Bahrain before going to Qatar and passing through the UAE before going to Oman and the finish. ‘We thank God almighty for giving us the resources and the infrastructure to host and develop this great initiative in cooperation with Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club’. He also added that the participation of six teams is considered a good number seeing as this is the inaugural edition and will definitely attract more teams and representatives from more countries in the future. ‘This is what we are aiming for by developing one of the fastest growing sports in the region. It is the strategy of the club to provide all possible support in order to make sailing events a success and, considering the tour includes ‘Arabia’, we aim to use this as a tool to show the brotherly relationship between other GCC and Arabian countries.’
Yousuf bin Lahej, the only Emirati sailor in the fleet, and a former Olympic sailor, was enjoying the race and sailing into the UAE, ‘The race is a fantastic concept and credit to Oman Sail for putting it all together. Having two stops in the UAE is great to see and although I am sailing on the Ras Al Khaimah team, I am from Dubai and hopefully we will see a Dubai team and a stopover there next year. We’re a new team on our boat and we are learning about the boat as we go but to sail 160 miles and have all the boats finish so close together, with us in the middle, shows we are heading in the right direction. It’s great to be sailing with all the Omani sailors; I sailed against and with many of them before and it is incredible to see how they have become world-class sailors. Having Layla Mohsin in the fleet is also a good sign as the Gulf is quite a small population and we need to encourage everyone to sail, not just the men! We’ll be back again next year with more Emirati sailors onboard- that’s for sure.’