Sailing Arabia – the Tour
Daniel Souben : "Sailing Arabia has been a great event for us"
Monday 27 February 2012 –
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After a delayed start while the fleet motored along the coastline waiting for the breeze to fill in, the line was finally laid, leaving just a 10-mile race-course for the teams to make their final assault on the leaderboard. It was a short upwind burst to start off and a quick mark-rounding before the fleet headed downwind for the sprint to the finish line, spinnakers set, in 7-knots of breeze.
The professional French team Courrier Dunkerque had an untouchable lead going into the final leg this morning, and rounded up what has been a perfect scoreboard for them with another leg win.
Daniel Souben, the team’s skipper commented:
“Sailing Arabia has been a great event for us. The competition has been good and there have been lots of different conditions to contend with. This has been a great event and the Gulf is a fantastic sailing venue.”
The battle for second between Team BAE Systems and Team Commercialbank was tense, with the later just one point ahead of Team BAE Systems going into today. Bertrand Pace’s match-racing pedigree on Team Commercialbank was evident, marking Team BAE Systems the whole way and ultimately maintaining the upper hand, finishing in fifth, enough for the Qatari-flagged team to claim the second place overall.
The all women’s team Al Thuraya BankMuscat and Team Renaissance were in a similar battle for fourth and fifth, as their skipper Dee Caffari explained:
“We knew going into today is was all on between us and the Omani boys as just one point separated us, so beating them was our priority. We did that but I have really mixed emotions as we missed the podium on that leg by a hairs breadth, and I really wanted the girls to get on the podium. I was pretty upset but seeing the girls celebrate the fourth place overall made it all worth while, they were so happy.
“I am immensely proud of the whole team, particularly the Omani girls who have just grown and development during the event. The girls have genuinely developed a love for sailing, they love being on the boat and they are keen to carry on.”
Team Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had a one-point lead over Team Bahrain in sixth and seventh place going into today’s race, and after a good race start, Team Kingdom of Saudi Arabia did well to hold their position, securing third place, their best result of the tour, and enough to finish sixth overall. Robin Elsey, the young British skipper of Team Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said:
“It was a relatively short leg, but everything just worked on board and we sailed like a rocket ship! It is been great sailing with the Saudi guys, and we have really started working better as a team, hopefully it is the beginning of something for the future.”
Despite an impressive second place finish today, the all Omani-crewed Team Muscat 2012 finished in eighth place overall, while Team Ras Al Khaimah, the only team representing the UAE, brought up the tail end of the fleet in ninth place.
The achievements of the regional teams can best be put into perspective by the level of competition they have faced over the last two weeks, which includes a line-up of world champions, America’s Cup sailors and veterans of the Tour du France Al Voile, the event on which SATT is based.
In it’s second edition, Sailing Arabia – the Tour has seen a 50% increase in the number of teams competing, and a significant growth in the number of teams from the GCC, with five of the six GCC nations represented. Significantly, the teams representing, Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have all sailed with a national from their region onboard, a sure sign of the development of sailing within the region, as Oman Sail’s CEO David Graham said:
“This race is going to play a crucial part in the development of local and regional sailing talent, who are already interacting with and sailing against some of the best sailors in the world through this event. Watching Team Muscat 2012 come in second on that final leg today is a clear indication that sailing in the region is on the up-rise.”
The 2012 edition of the Tour was declared as a resounding success by the sailors, and tour winners Courrier Dunkerque have already declared their intention to come back next year.
“Sailing Arabia takes place at a very good time for us, it is the winter at home in France and so this is a good start to the season for us.” Daniel Souben, Courrier Dunkerque skipper.
The nine teams, which between them represent six nations, have visited four countries on the tour, starting in Bahrain on February 13 before heading to Qatar, the UAE and Oman.
As one event draws to a close, the next begins, and tomorrow The Wave, Muscat will be transformed to host an altogether different kind of sailing event, The Extreme Sailing Series. The 40 international sailors who will compete in the Extreme Sailing Series were dock-side today to welcome the SATT teams home, and tomorrow the SATT teams will return the favour, cheering the eight Extreme 40’s on as they go head-to-head, over the next four days. Photos
Press info Sailing Arabia – the Tour/ www.sailingarabiathetour.com
- 1 – COURRIER DUNKERQUE – 10 POINTS
- 2 – TEAM COMMERCIALBANK – 22 POINTS
- 3 – TEAM BAE SYSTEMS – 27 POINTS
- 4 – AL THURAYA BANKMUSCAT – 37 POINTS
- 5 – TEAM RENAISSANCE – 47 POINTS
- 6 – TEAM KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA – 57 POINTS
- 7 – TEAM BAHRAIN – 62 POINTS
- 8 – TEAM TEAM MUSCAT 2012 – 66 POINTS
- 9 – RAS AL KHAIMAH – 79 POINTS
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