The French-flagged Team Courrier Dunkerque took top honours as all nine competing teams crossed the finish line for the final fifth leg of the Sailing Arabia competition and, together with second place Qatari-flagged Team Commercialbank and third place Omani-flagged Team BAE Systems, took to the podium after being handed their awards by the guest of honour, His Highness Sayyid Harub bin Thuwaini al Said, in the presence of Issa bin Sultan al Ismaili, Oman Sails, Director of Events, at The Wave Muscat yesterday.
'Sail Arabia - the Tour. French-flagged Team Courrier Dunkerque'
Ali al Riyami
A large turnout greeted the competitors with the guest of honour being accompanied by Maitha bint Saif al Mahrouqi, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, Shaikh Khalifa bin Abdullah al Khalifa, President of the GCC Sailing Federation and Chairman of Bahrain Maritime Sports Association, David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail, other dignitaries and press and media personnel.
Having already covered well over 1,000 kilometres of sailing, from Bahrain to Qatar to the UAE, with a stopover in Dibba for an event hosted by Six Senses Resort and Spa Zighy Bay, on to their penultimate leg in Mussannah, there were not many points separating the leading teams — with just one point separating third placed Team BAE Systems from second placed Team Commercial Bank; the battle for fourth and fifth also had one point separating Omani-flagged teams Al Thuraya BankMuscat and Team Renaissance — before reaching the finish line at The Wave Muscat and covering some 1,400 kilometres.
In comments given to the Observer, al Ismaili noted, this is the second edition of the event with the first edition witnessing 6 competing teams that represented 3 nations. This time there has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of countries represented, where nine teams represented 6 countries.
He said, the race course has been quite difficult for the teams and they had a lot of challenges to face, as they navigated their way around commercial shipping and against blustery winds. It is good to note that all of the competing crew members and their sailing boats have reached here safe and sound, he added.
With this being the second year of the event, there were high expectations and we are very glad to note that it has been a major success. As a pan-GCC event that has been created, managed and executed by Oman Sail, it Sailin Arabia-winners-1st Place 036 would be good to see the GCC sailing fraternity take ownership of it in the future, noted al Ismaili, adding that, hopefully it will expand into a pan-Arabia event.In the short to medium term, he said, he would love the event to cover additional new venues, such as those in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well.
A special award went to the all-female crew of the Omani-flagged Al Thuraya BankMuscat, which came in fourth. fifth place went to Team Renaissance (Oman), sixth to Team Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia), seventh to Team Kingdom of Bahrain (Bahrain), eighth to Team Muscat 2012 (Oman) and ninth to Team Ras al Khaima (UAE).
Sail Arabia - the Tour - Ali al Riyami
by Ali Ahmed al Riyami, Oman Observer
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2:55 AM Tue 28 Feb 2012GMT
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