EFG Bank Monaco became the most successful boat in the history of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, organised by Oman Sail, today after winning a third consecutive crown. The team sealed overall victory with a third place in the final offshore leg of the event from Sohar to Muscat. The reigning champions were on top form throughout the two-week tour, winning three of the five offshore stages and two of the three in-port race series.
Despite finishing the 100 nautical mile finale in third behind Omani teams Al Mouj, Muscat, and Renaissance Services, EFG Bank Monaco’s typically strong result was enough to see them end the event almost seven points clear at the top of the overall standings. Skippered by Frenchman Sidney Gavignet, this victory sees him surpass fellow countryman Bertrand Pacé – who won in 2012 and 2013 – as the most successful skipper in the tour’s six-year history. And it means EFG Bank Monaco become the first team to have their names engraved on a newly commissioned EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour trophy made by British Royal Warrant holder and goldsmiths Thomas Fattorini Ltd.
In a nail-biting climax to the tour, Al Mouj, Muscat snatched second place overall from British young guns Team Averda who could only muster a sixth in the last leg. Al Mouj, Muscat, skippered by France’s Nico Lunven, started EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour slowly but after hitting their stride notched up a string of impressive podium finishes. They went into leg 5 less than a point adrift of second, and in the end their sheer determination to overhaul their closest rivals proved too much for Team Averda, who had to settle for third.
The five stages of the epic race saw the nine international crews cover 730nm from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, on to Doha in Qatar then back across the Gulf to Khasab on Oman’s Musandam peninsula. The fleet then embarked on two sprints down the coast to Sohar then on to the Muscat finish, showcasing the world-class sailing the region has to offer.
“It is so cool to have our hands on the trophy for a third time,” Gavignet said. “I have to thank my team – these guys made it look easy. I am so proud of what we have done here. This trophy is not going to be taken from our hands easily.”
Omani sailor Azziz Al Obidani, from the Al Mouj, Muscat crew, added: “We are so happy to come second. “We woke up too late in the race to win overall but this result is just what we need to make us excited for next year when we’re going to come back and win.”
Herrera said that despite being ousted from second place at the last minute his crew were delighted to finish on the podium. “We had a tight battle with Al Mouj and we really put on a show but unfortunately they had the upper hand,” he said. “Hats off to them – they’ve done a great job. But we’re very content with third and we will be back bigger and better next year.”
A second-place finish in leg 5 wasn’t enough to elevate Omani sailor Fahad Al Hasni, Gavignet’s protégé, and his Renaissance Services to the podium. They narrowly missed out on an overall podium position by just a single point, while Team Zain, from Kuwait, finished in fifth. Oman Airports-Al Thuraya Women’s Team, the race’s all-woman crew led by British round the world yachtswoman Dee Caffari, came eighth overall.
The nine crews were welcomed to the dock at Al Mouj, Muscat by a group of Omani schoolchildren prior to a special prize-giving ceremony celebrating the achievement of the sailors and the success of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour. They were presented with their awards by His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Salem Al-Futaisi, Oman’s Minister of Transport and Communication, Her Excellency Maitha Al Mahrouqi Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Chairwoman of Oman Sail and George Catsiapis, Managing Director of EFG Bank Monaco.
David Graham, CEO of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour organisers Oman Sail, said: “EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour was created by Oman Sail with a vision of building a sustainable, iconic sailboat race in the Gulf. “We are delighted that the event is now the region’s most challenging race and each year it becomes more and more globally renowned.”