After 15 days, 1,408 kilometers, and seven ports, the nine competing teams in Sailing Arabia – the Tour reached their final destination in Muscat, Oman today (February 27), where the French on Courrier Dunkerque were crowned Sailing Arabia – the Tour Champions, 2012.
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 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.”
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 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.