Sailing Arabia - The Tour 2012 is an international regatta organised by Oman Sail which is being held from 12 to 27 February. The in-port race was held from Al Hamra marina in Ras Al Khaima in the UAE.
The Crown Prince, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Saud Al Qasimi, honoured the sailors with his presence, presiding over the nine-boat fleet as they raced.
Hosted at the Royal Yacht Club of Ras Al Khaimah, the stopover in Ras Al Khaimah is supported by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Investment and Development Authority.
Victor Louis, Chief Operating Officer, was present and said: 'We are fully supporting and happy with the event taking place in Ras al Khaimah. Now we have a base and a better knowledge on how we can make it even better next year. We are looking forward to welcoming all sailing lovers in Ras Al Khaimah for the Sailing Arabia – the Tour 2013.'
The nine boat-fleet arrived in Ras Al Khaimah on February 19 in the early hours of the morning, having raced the 232 kilometres from Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaimah. The top three ranked boats remained relatively unchanged – the French on Courrier Dunkeque won their third consecutive leg, while the Qatari flagged Team Commercialbank secured their best result yet, finishing in second just ahead of Team BAE Systems from Oman.
Aaref Al Haranki, Executive Director of Rask Al Khaimah Internatioanl Marine Sports Club, presented the awards to the teams, and spoke about the vision for developing sport in the region.
'There is a clear direction from the Government of Ras Al Khaimah, represented by H.H Sheikh Saud Al Qasimi, the ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and H.H Sheikh Mohammad Al Qasimi, the Crown Prince, to develop sport within the Emirate and to support the youth to excel.
'We have started in a number of sports that focus on promoting the Emirate through team work and also in promoting the tourism opportunities. We are very happy to host Sailing Arabia – the Tour for the second time and we will continue to support the Tour. It will only grow and become stronger every year. Thank you to Oman Sail, the organisers and all the sponsors for making this happen.'
Oman Sail’s CEO David Graham was also present, and spoke highly of the efforts of everyone involved in the Ras Al Khaimah stopover.
'This is the second year Ras Al Khaimah has provided such a spectacular stopover for Sailing Arabia – the Tour. The Arabian coast is beautiful, and as you can see from today’s racing it provides perfect sailing conditions. Sailing Arabia – The Tour provides a platform for the GCC countries to come together to showcase our region, and I am delighted that in this edition with have five GCC countries competing.
'Ras Al Khaimah’s commitment to developing the sport of sailing and their local talents is evident in the participation of young Emirati sailor Marjed Sultan, who is sailing with Team Ras Al Khaimah. By developing talent in this we can reignite the regions marmite heritage which is so deep and rich.'
The inshore yacht racing, held directly off the Royal Ras Al Kaimah Yacht Club at Al Hamra Marina and was close, fast and intense providing a magic spectacle for visiting VIPs and media.
The first race of two showed the talent of the French skippered teams with Team Commercialbank leading from start to finish with Team BAE Systems a very close second and Courrier Dunkerque third.
In race two it was Team Bahrain that led from the start, a position they maintained to the end. But the race wasn’t without drama with Team Muscat 2012 and Team BAE Systems colliding on the water. This paved the way for the women’s team Al Thuraya BankMuscat to sail on, claiming third place.
The combined results of the two races put Courrier Dunkerque and Team Commercialbank in joint first place with Team Bahrain second and Al ThurayaBank Muscat in third.
Ebraham Abdullah, who was helming during Team Bahrain commented on their performance. 'It was a team effort, we all worked so hard and that is how we got the result. We were in a good start and managed to maintain that. We had a good first race but the second was better!
'One of the best things about the Tour is we can test our skills in both inshore and offshore races. We often change our positions on the boat to give us different experiences, and today I got the chance to helm. The team have worked so hard and this is how we will continue to get good results and continue to learn.'
The Al Thuraya BankMuscat women were joined on the water by Mrs Suzanne Al Houby - the first Arab woman to climb Mount Everest. Suzanne, who is known for her charitable and humanitarian efforts in the UAE, is a board member of the Emirates Arthritis Foundation, commented on her experience, and how it feels to go from the mountains to the sea!
'It was great and I did not expect the in-port racing to be as fast, exciting, and thrilling. I have definitely learnt new thing from the women. I was really surprised by their efficiency in sailing and their ability to deal with wind and control their boat - it seems that the young Omani female sailors have had very good training.'
Khalood Alkindi, who has been sailing during the inport races spoke about sailing with Suzanne and their first podium position. 'It was great to sail with Suzanne. We have said we will teach her about the sea if she teaches us about the mountains!
'We are so happy to finish on the podium, we worked so hard and our efforts paid off - it is amazing! We worked so well together as a team and everyone is very happy.'
The fleet will leave behind the hospitality at the Royal Yacht Club of Ras Al Khaimah today (February 22) as they set sail on the fourth leg of the tour, to Mussandam, Oman. All team are fitted with onboard tracking systems, and you can follow their progress online.