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Countdown to Tour de France a la Voile begins with one month to go

by Oman Sail on 9 Jun 2016
Oman Sail - Tour de France a la Voile Oman Sail
The Oman Airports by Oman Sail Diam 24 crew are upbeat about preparations for the 2016 Tour de France a la Voile (TDFV) which kicks off in a month after some valuable racing at Normandy Sailing Week in France last week where they finished seventh in a field of 17 teams, many of whom will be heading to Dunkirk for the start of the TDFV on July 8.

They were missing their co-skipper Thierry Douillard so a top 10 result was a bonus, said Ali Al Balushi, one of two Omanis who will be bidding for honours on Oman Airports by Oman Sail during the three week-long event that starts in Dunkirk and travels to Dieppe, Roscoff, Baden, Roses in Spain, Gruissan, Marseille and Hyeres before finishing in Nice at the end of July. “We put in some good performances across the four days in Normandy despite light winds and the tricky conditions in Le Havre so we feel we are heading in the right direction in the run up to the Tour,” he said.

“We hope to finish in the top five but this project is more about evolving a team and making progress and we have made a lot of progress since we started in the Diam 24s in March.

“We know who we will be up against for the Tour de France a la Voile because we have been racing against them for a couple of months now and although there is still a long way to go, we are enjoying the boat and coming together well as a team.”

For Normandy Sailing Week, the Oman Airports by Oman Sail team comprised Ali and fellow Omani Abdulhaman Al Mashari as well as Pierre Leboucher and Stevie Morrison who will continue training and racing, with Douillard back in action next week in Les Sables d’Olonnes and Quiberon.

Also in action at the Normandy event was the all-female crew on Oman Sail’s J80, skippered by Dee Caffari, and the all-Omani male crew, led by Fahad Al Hasni, who were competing cheek by jowl for honours in the 25 strong J80 field. It proved a close run thing but after nine races over four days, it was Al Hasni’s crew who came out on top, finishing in 10th place compared to 13th for the girls.

Normandy Week marks the end of the 2016 European season for Oman Sail’s J80 women’s crew of Caffari, Marwa Al Khaifi, Tamadher Al Balushi, Annemieke Bes from the Netherlands and Ibtisam Al Salmi, one of the Middle East’s first professional female sailors. But Fahad Al Hasni, together with his J80 teammates Sami Al Shukaili, Yasser al Rahabi and Raad al Hadi will head to the UK shortly to begin their preparations for the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race and other events in the European summer as members of Sidney Gavignet’s MOD70 crew on Musandam-Oman Sail

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