Marcel Herrera has assembled a new young crew for EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2015 and is hoping his team Averda will repeat the same sort of upset at the top of the rankings that was created by his student team in 2014.
Last year, as skipper of the EU-flagged Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team, Herrera’s brave tussle with EFG Bank Monaco’s Sidney Gavignet became one of the highlights of the 2014 race. Finishing in second place overall was cause for celebration and inspired their return to Oman hoping that this time, the ‘amateurs’ can finally get one over on the professional sailors.
“We finished last year in second overall as an amateur team, beating many of the pro teams so it would be fantastic to win this time,” he said. “I have assembled a team of trustworthy sailors from mainly the UK and France. We have built our team in the last few weeks only, however we all know each other from competitive racing in the UK.
“Everyone part of Team Averda is between the age of 19 and 26, making us a truly young team. Most of the sailors on board are Category 1 amateurs, who have just finished University and are testing the water for their professional sailing careers.”
Most of the crew are familiar with the Farr 30 having competed in World Championships and other Farr 30 events but Herrera reckons as a team, they might be the least prepared in the fleet
“We have had no time training together as a complete team and we will be coming into the event with the least preparation out of all the other teams but we have a lot of experience on board and plenty of determination.”
For teams taking part in EFG Sailing Arabia – the Tour 2015, racing in the Arabian Gulf with its light winds and mild temperatures offers a chance to maintain and develop skills in a top class arena which is fast becoming recognized as a premier professional racing platform.
“I think it is one of the most spectacular races,” said Hererra.
“Stretching across the Arabian Peninsula, it provides some fantastic winter time offshore racing for European sailors. It’s been going for five years now and every year, the competition becomes more and more intense.”
This unique sailing challenge, showcasing four different countries across a course of 760 nautical miles and 15 days, has been refreshed this year with a dramatic change in the route. After the opening stage from Muscat, teams will set sail for Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, in the UAE, as well as Qatar and Bahrain, with inshore races in Dubai and Doha.
The addition of five new teams to last years’ fleet combined with this new anti-clockwise route has raised the bar so repeating their success of last year in coming second, with one leg win, five runners up places and a third, will be a huge undertaking.
“We like the concept of changing the route to make it more challenging. Being an upwind race will put a lot more strain on the boats, crews and time limits in general and teams will be forced to make big decisions on navigation, which will undoubtedly make for more mixed results.
“We would really like to compete with the top of the fleet, and even occasionally mix for the chances of a podium finish on some of the legs and inshore races. By the end, we would hope to be in the top 5.”
Team Averda Crew:
- Alan Roberts – British
- Rich Mason – British
- Jack Trigger – British
- James French – British
- David Kenefick – Irish
- Max Richardson – British
- Marcel Herrera – German
- Training sessions – 11-14th February, Muscat
- Leg 1 – 15th February, Muscat – Sohar
- Leg 2 – 17th February, Sohar – RAK
- Leg 3 – 19th February, RAK – Dubai
- Leg 4 – 23rd February, Dubai – Abu Dhabi
- Leg 5 – 24th February, Abu Dhabi – Doha
- Leg 6 – 26th February, Doha – Manama