Sailing Arabia - The Tour - The fleet of six boats, which between them represents four nations, has travelled an incredible 1,064 kilometers since they left Amwaj Marina in Bahrain, and it was not until they crossed the finish line in front of the crowds at The Wave, Muscat that French team of Team New Caledonia emerged as the winner.
The fleet was met with challenging conditions as they embarked on the final leg early Sunday morning, setting off from Musannah Sports Village down to the finish at The Wave, Muscat. Winds were forecast to be strong and the teams were not disappointed, as 20 knots of wind carried them down the coast. A change in wind direction after passing the Sawadi Islands created some nerve-wracking conditions, demanding 100% concentration from all on board- even the smallest mistake could mean losing a place.
At 13:42 a jubilant Team New Caledonia crossed the finish line to a chorus of cheers, and with it won the inaugural Sailing Arabia – The Tour. Saleh Al Jabri brought his team on board Renaissance across the line five minutes later to seal their second place overall, an incredible achievement for the almost one hundred percent Omani crew.
Only a minute later it was the turn of Team Commercialbank Group to cross the line and round off the podium.
A welcome sight was the return of the team from Bahrain, GAC Team Pindar to the fleet for the final leg, with Bahrain national Layla Mohsin back on board, the only woman to take part in the race. The team missed the races between Qatar and Mussanah after facing technical difficulties, but worked hard to get back for the final leg, finishing in an impressive fourth place in the final leg and sixth overall.
Team Ras Al Khaimah didn’t manage to recover from an error soon after the start and were consigned to fifth in the finishing order of the last leg, but took fourth overall. The Royal navy of Oman battled until the end, finishing soon after Ras Al Khaimah, but crossed the line in the good humor that has endeared them to everybody throughout the tour.
Saleh Al Jabri, skipper of Oman Sail’s Renaissance, was in an understandably ecstatic mood on setting foot back onshore at The Wave, Muscat, ‘When we went into this event we knew it was going to be hard, that it would test us to our limits, mentally and physically, but we what surprised us was how close the racing was.
There was never a point when we felt we were out of touch with the rest of the fleet and although we always felt we were doing well, we often surprised ourselves with how well.
I can only put it down to great teamwork and respect for each other and our skills. I look forward to sailing with any and all of them again in the near future. I must also thank Renaissance Services for their continuing support and helping us achieve results like this.’
At a closing ceremony in front of the new Oman Sail headquarters, His Excellency Ali Al Sunaidi, Minister of Sports and Oman Sail CEO David Graham handed out prizes. Many students, sailors, friends and families came along to show their support for the event with a traditional Omani band. David Graham commented on the success of the inaugural Sailing Arabia-The Tour. 'I would like to thank all of our commercial partners, the stopover venues and the teams for making the inaugural Sailing Arabia – The Tour such a success.
Bringing events like this to our region is a source of inspiration that will bring more Omanis to discover sailing and write the next page of the maritime history of Oman. We are looking forward to working with the teams again next year and to welcoming even more to the 2012 Sailing Arabia-The Tour'. Final Positions – 13 February 2011
1st Team Caledonia- Representing: France
2nd Oman Sail’s Renaissance - Representing: Oman
3rd Commercial Bank Group - Representing: Oman
4th Team Ras Al Khaimah - Representing: Ras Al Khaimah
5th Royal Navy of Oman - Representing: Oman
6th Team GAC Pindar - Representing: Bahrain www.omansail.com