Bienne Voile, the Farr 30 named after the crew’s home town in Switzerland, return to the Middle East in 2017 for their third attempt on the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour title, hoping that the knowledge built up from negotiating 1,500 miles of tricky currents and almost 20 in port races might this time work to trump the opposition.
An amateur team of talented recreational sailors put together by skipper Lorenz Mueller, Bienne Voile will once again feature a wide age range from teenager to sexagenarian and an even wider range of professions including a physicist, architect and physiotherapist.
Experience levels too will vary but they boast 15 Tour de France a la Voile and a few Fastnet Race caps between them and one crewmember Tobias Etter competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 in the 470 class.
But their expertise is rooted mainly in dinghy racing since most of their sailing in Bienne takes place on a lake at Neuchatel.
“We have some very good dinghy sailors on board and they will be at home with the in-port races but the longer offshore legs are probably better suited to the French who have much more experience of long distance sailing,” said Mueller who steered Bienne Voile to 7th place last year with their two best results posted in the legs from Sohar to Muscat and from Abu Dhabi to Doha where they finished 4th.
“There are many things we like about this race – especially that it is one design with all the sails provided so all the equipment is the same and success comes down to sailing skills and tactical calls.
“Also, there are no other events that combine offshore and inshore challenges and that is something we are always looking for because you get to do a bit of everything. It makes it a very attractive event.
The Gulf region is also an attraction to the Bienne Voile team. “It is a wonderful place – the Oman coast especially is beautiful. Going into the Straits of Hormuz is one of the biggest appeals of the race. The wind is changing all the time and there is a lot of current which means there are important choices to make and we like that. We are looking forward to the challenge and will be aiming to go one better than last year.”