Stunning conditions greeted the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour fleet today as the third of five testing offshore legs got underway. The eight-strong fleet of professional and amateur crews left Khasab on Oman’s spectacular Musandam Peninsula bound for Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, under bright blue skies and with winds of up to 20 knots. The stage represents the fleet’s biggest challenge to date – at 153 nautical miles long not only is it further than the previous legs, meaning more time at sea, but it is also fraught with navigational hazards.
The stretch of the Omani and UAE coastline the teams must navigate is peppered with fishing boats, whose long nets could cause problems for them. “The next leg will be challenging because of all the fishing boats between here and Abu Dhabi,” explained Omani sailor Fahad Al Hasni, skipper of Team Renaissance (OMA). “The fishermen expect you to get out of their way! Although we will try to avoid any kind of situation, when we see the fishing boats we will be ready with headtorches, knives and goggles so we can be ready to cut ourselves free from their nets if we need to.”
Al Hasni’s men begin the leg in second place overall, two points behind overall leaders EFG Bank Monaco but half a point ahead of Omani rivals Team Al Mouj Muscat. After being knocked off the Leg 2 top spot by EFG Bank within a few miles of the finish line, Team Al Mouj Muscat skipper Christian Ponthieu said his team were even more motivated to top the podium in Leg 3. “Second was a good result in Leg 2, but we’re a bit disappointed not to have won,” the Frenchman said. “We are even more determined for Leg 3 now. We’ve got a great team and together we can do beautiful things.”
Following the start of Leg 3 at 1000 local time (GMT+4) the fleet must now tack their way south before the wind drops overnight. The breeze is then forecast to fill for the back part of the leg. In total it could take around 36 hours to complete the stage.
EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour rookies Adelasia di Torres (ITA) begin the stage determined to finish in the top half of the fleet after a fifth in Leg 1 and sixth in Leg 2. Their secret weapon is crewmember Caterina Nitto, a professional yachtswoman whose experience as a captain dodging traffic in the busy Mediterranean could give them the upper hand.
“The hope for the next leg is always the same – to win!” Nitto said. “We’re expecting nice wind, not too strong, not too light. There will be lots of fishing boats but we come from the Mediterranean where there is a lot of traffic so we’re used to it. I was a yacht captain so I’m comfortable sailing around ships – maybe that will give us a bit of an advantage!”
Prior to the race’s departure from Khasab the teams were welcomed by His Excellency Sayyid Khalifa bin Al Murdas bin Ahmed Al Busaidi, Governor of Musandam, at a special ceremony at Khasab Castle. The teams also took part in a beach clean at Bokha Beach, part of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour’s commitment to safeguarding Oman’s seas following the launch of a new marine conservation initiative by race organisers Oman Sail and integrated waste management company Averda.
Results of Leg 2:
- EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard) – 1.5 points
- Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu) – 3 points
- Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni) – 4.5 points
- Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny) – 6 points
- DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes) – 7.5 points
- Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara) – 9 points
- Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker) – 10.5 points
- Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – 12 points
- EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard) – 3.5 points
- Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni) – 5.5 point
- Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu) – 6 points
- Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny) – 10 points
- Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara) – 14 points
- DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes) – 15.5 points
- Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker) – 16.5 points
- Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – 19 points