BEIJAFLORE – Skipper: Valentin Bellet
Crew: Julien Villion, Guillaume Piroulle, Valentin Sipan, Jason Saunders
The Beijaflore team comes to EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour hot from a third place finish in the 2017 Tour de France à la Voile and ready to take full advantage of the near-idyllic sailing conditions in Oman. Renowned yachtsman Pierre Mas leads a young team as coach and project director. Mas himself can draw on long experience from across the board, including the America’s Cup, the Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race, Solitaire du Figaro and back-to-back Tour de France victories alongside Bertrand Pace in 1987-88. Beijaflore will field a squad of five sailors with duplicate skills, allowing them to rotate crew on the three-man Diam 24 trimaran. Leading the race team on the water is Valentin Bellet who has F18 European and Hobie 16 World Championship youth titles to his credit. Julien Villion, who will alternate between helm and navigation-strategy, is a Hobie 16 European Champion and has twice been on winning Tour de France crews. Helmsman Guillaume Pirouelle was 470 Junior World Champion in 2015, racing alongside his Beijaflore teammate and tactician Valentin Sipan. New Zealand trimmer Jason Saunders has London and Rio Olympic campaigns on his CV and also won the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013.
Founded in 2000, management consultancy firm Beijaflore has a growing presence in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Morocco, and is a long-standing sponsor of yacht racing teams with a declared interest in developing young sailing talent.
DB SCHENKER – Skipper: Elodie Mettraux
Crew: Sophie de Turckheim, Mathilde Geron, Marwa Al Khaifi
Swiss sailing star Elodie-Jane Mettraux only teamed-up with former French Olympic squad members Sophie de Turckheim and Mathilde Geron in October, with their sights set on a 2018 campaign culminating with the Tour de France – but starting in Oman with EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour. Mettraux will come to the event almost directly from Volvo Ocean Race duty with former Sailing Arabia stalwart Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic team. She project managed the two City of Geneva – CER teams in last year’s Tour de France, while De Turckheim helped her Country Gold Pink Lady team to 15th place in the general rankings. De Turckheim has an early background in the Radial Laser – with three World Championship silver medals – and has more recently raced with Franck Cammas on two Olympic campaigns with the Nacra 17 catamaran, as well as in the Extreme Sailing Series on Groupama. They will be joined by 470 and Laser Radial sailor Geron and Al Khaifi, a graduate from the Oman Sail project.
The SATT team is backed by German transportation and logistics firm DB Schenker, who sponsored an all-women team on the 2017 Tour.
EFG BANK MONACO – Skipper: Thierry Douillard
Crew: Mathieu Richard, Ali Al Balushi
As defending champion, Douillard will be aiming to repeat his 2017 success albeit in a much changed landscape with an all-new course and all-change boat with the Diam 24. The French sailing star led his EFG Bank Monaco team to their fourth consecutive EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour title, sealing victory in the Arabian classic in a thrilling final race climax off Dubai. Douillard brings considerable Diam experience to the event, having skippered Oman Sail entries at the two most recent Tours de France à la Voile, posting top-five finishes on both occasions. Prior to that, he had achieved notable success on the America’s Cup, Extreme Sailing Series and World Match Racing circuits. For this year’s Sailing Arabia he will be reunited with French match-racing ace Matthieu Richard and Ali Al Balushi, one of Oman Sail’s most experienced racers.
Overall event sponsor EFG has helped Sailing Arabia earn its status as the most highly regarded sailing event in the Gulf region. In addition, it has now supported five individual Sailing Arabia team campaigns and has built a winning streak dating back to 2014. EFG Bank Monaco is a member of the global private banking group EFG International providing banking and asset management services to private and institutional clients.
TEAM LORINA GOLFE DU MORBIHAN – Skipper: Solune Robert
Crew: Louis Flament, Riwan Perron, Charles Dorange
While French skipper Solune Robert is the youngest in the fleet at 21 – and also leads the youngest squad taking part – the young guns of Team Lorina head into EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour aiming to make their mark on the all-new international event. After winning the French F18 Championship in 2015 and coming second in the Youth World Championships in the same year, the multihull specialist joined Team France Jeune at the 2017 Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. Robert won the amateur ranking at the Tour de France à la Voile in 2015, came a close second in 2016 and repeated his victory in 2017, finishing eighth overall in the general ranking as one of the ‘Mojito Kids’ aboard Team Lorina Mojito – Gulf of Morbihan. And he will be reunited with the same squad for Sailing Arabia when he is joined by Louis Flament, 19, Riwan Perron, 21, and Charles Dorange, 19. Robert has raced with co-skipper Perron on three successive Tour de France events.
An iconic French company with an international market, Lorina has been producing sparkling lemonade since 1895. It has a two decade history of supporting young athletes, particularly in the sailing sector and in the Morbihan regions.
POUJOULAT – Skipper: Bernard Stamm
Crew: Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Gwen Riou
While the new-look EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is a fresh challenge for all those taking part, for Swiss racing legend Bernard Stamm it is a true voyage of discovery as he makes his first visit to Oman. Stamm needs little introduction having made his name in the high-profile world of solo and short-handed racing with hard-earned victories in the Barcelona World Race (2015), Velux 5 Oceans (2007) and Around Alone (2002). He has also led a team for the past three years in the Tour de France à la Voile with the support of his long-term sponsor Cheminees Poujoulat, taking ninth place in 2017. The same experienced team will be alongside Stamm at Sailing Arabia, namely Jean-Christophe Mourniac, a long-time member of the French Olympic squad, and Gwen Riou, whose extensive inshore and offshore experience includes two-handed racing with Stamm.
A European market leader manufacturing metal chimney flues and other heating elements, Poujoulat has had a long involvement in yacht racing, now extended to Omani waters for EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour.
RENAISSANCE – Skipper: Cedric Pouligny
Crew: Yasser Al Rhabi, Sami Al Shukaili, Haitham Al Wahaibi, Hussen Al Mansoori
Team Renaissance has been a permanent fixture on EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, having been part of every edition since 2011, coming second last year with an all-Omani crew. It is a tradition that will continue in 2018 with the highly experienced French yachtsman Cedric Pouligny leading a squad again comprising some of Oman’s best sailors. A familiar face within Oman Sail, Pouligny has also skippered the organisation’s entry in the Tour de France à la Voile on three occasions, and led the supporting B Team with Al Rhabi and Al Wahaibi in the run up to the 2017 edition. In addition, he is a veteran of Sailing Arabia with several appearances, notably having skippered Team Zain for fourth place last year, and Oman’s Team BAE Systems to third spot back in 2012.
Renaissance Group is an Oman-based multinational operating in a wide range of management and service sectors including oil and gas. Their long-term involvement in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour has been rewarded with two second place finishes, the most recent in 2017 with an all-Omani crew including Al Rhabi and Al Shukaili.
VIVACAR – Skipper: Matthieu Souben
Crew: Didier Le Vourch, Fred Moreau
A winner of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour in 2012, Team Vivacar manager and coach Daniel Soubon is one of France’s most experienced sailors. Among his many achievements, he is a three-time winner of the Tour de France à la Voile with the Courrier Dunkerque team in 2008, 2009 and 2014. After the switch to the Diam 24 he turned manager of the newly-formed Vivacar-supported team which, with son Matthieu on board, raced to a highly competitive seventh place in 2017. In addition, Daniel was a member of the French Olympic team from 1978-1992, competing in the 470 and Tornado multihulls, with national championship victories in each class, as well as taking a Farr 30 World Championships win in 2010. Matthieu remains on the helm for Sailing Arabia where he will be joined by Didier Le Vourch as navigator, and 2015 Tour de France winner Fred Moreau taking the tactician’s berth to complete the three-strong race crew.
Vivacar is a leading French automotive financing company specialising in the used car market, and will be supporting the Souben-led team through 2018.
Averda – Skipper: Stevie Morrison
Crew: Abdulrahman Al Mashari, Quentin Ponroy
Skipper Stevie Morrison is making his EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour debut, but the Olympic sailor brings a wealth of relevant experience to the event, not least having twice raced alongside Tour de France à la Voile teammate Thierry Douillard – now turned SATT rival – in 2016 and 2017, finishing in a highly competitive fifth place on both occasions. In addition, he has 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games campaigns on his CV – as well as World Championship titles in both the 49er and Fireball classes. His other multihull experience has seen him racing in the Extreme Sailing Series on several occasions, including as skipper on Oman Air in 2015 and more recently at the helm of Team Extreme in 2017. Morrison will race alongside his Tour de France teammate Omani sailor Abdulrahman Al Mashari and a new addition to the team, French Diam 24 ace Quentin Ponroy, who has finished on the podium of all three Tour de France events featuring the Diam.
Averda, the largest integrated waste management service provider in the MENA region, have entered well organised and ambitious SATT teams in the last three events. They were third in 2017 and runners-up in 2015.