Overall standings: Team AISM 1st, BAE Systems 2nd, EFG Bank (Monaco) 3rd – Short race leg brings drama in the dark for crews -
Dubai-based Team AISM has maintained the overall lead by claiming the fourth leg of the EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour following a night of drama for the world-class crews from around the world and the Gulf region competing between Dubai and northern Emirate Ras Al Khaimah.At only 53 miles up the coast from Dubai to Al Hamra is the second shortest leg on the bruising 15 day and 760 nautical mile EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour and should have been routine. But due to Custom’s procedures in Dubai taking longer than anticipated, the scheduled mid-morning start was delayed until 14:50, forcing crews to re-equip themselves and their boats ready for a night time finish.The result was a race of intense fighting in darkness with the wind ranging from zero to as much as 17 knots, with the boats reaching or sailing downwind with Bertrand Pace’s overall leader, AISM, continually a nose ahead. Following AISM into Al Hamra were the youthful Team Messe Frankfurt led by Marcel Herrera and in third team BAE Systems.Yet the finishing order does little to tell of the drama that unfolded for the teams at around 20 miles out from the finish and an hour and a half after it turned dark. Just at a time when the boats were being pushed to limit sailing high under their big spinnakers, the fleet came across an area densely populated with fishing boats and their nets.
As Cedric Pouligny, skipper of BAE Systems described the high jump manoeuvre they had to perform each time they ran into a net: “Basically you went from 10 knots of speed to zero, then you had to broach and make even more heel before the boat could get off again.” Broaching normally occurs when a boat is overpowered in a gust, the rudder loses control and the boat is forced over on its side, but was necessary on this occasion effectively to lift the keel over the net.Unfortunately the result on this leg was determined by those who got through the fishing nets the fastest.
Speaking following another action-packed leg and night of drama Issa Al Ismaili, Director of Events at the race’s organiser Oman Sail said:“Firstly congratulations to team ASIM who continue to prove best equipped to deal with every challenge the EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour offers including on this occasion fishing nets. Obviously such a test at night was not planned for. But that is sailing and this world-class regatta is having to overcome unique challenges on every single leg. Even this leg to Al Hamra at only 53 miles, the second shortest on the race schedules has pushed crews to face the unknown. We’re delighted all have made it safely to Ras Al Khaimah and our preparing themselves for the next round of in-port racing.” After their disappointing result on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai leg yesterday, Marcel Herrera’s University of Plymouth team on Messe Frankfurt had managed to get back in with the lead trio and were into fourth place when they encountered the nets. “I think we hit eight fishing nets – along with every other boat, but the other boats seemed to broach a bit more when they hit them,” said Herrera. “We ploughed through them and managed to get a good technique going so that we didn’t get caught.”Because of this Messe Frankfurt emerged in second place and as the wind dropped subsequently they were closing on first placed AISM as they crossed the finish line at 21:49 (local time), three and a half minutes after Pace’s team. “It makes up for yesterday,” said Herrera.AISM crewman Benoit Briand said that through the day their speed was good and being ahead they had been able to control their opponents before they encountered the fishing nets. “We were lucky that we got over them quite easily, our keel seemed to pass over the nets.”
The AISM team was also pleased that Messe Frankfurt came home second as it puts more distance between themselves and second placed BAE Systems in the overall results. “Bertrand is going to be even more difficult to beat. He is going to be hard to catch,” admitted BAE Systems skipper Cedric Pouligny.One of the most dramatic moments occurred when team BAE Systems and EFG Bank (Monaco) got caught on the same fishing net at the same time and started to get drawn into the middle of the net so that at one point they came very close to colliding, only 2m apart.
Mohsin al Busaidi’s Renaissance came home in fifth place. The Omani skipper, the first sailor from the Middle East to sail non-stop around the world, reckoned that his team had hit maybe seven nets. “We got stuck in the first one. It was a surprise because we were all together and only two boats got stuck and other boats got through.” Al Busaidi’s solution was speed: “If you are going more than 10 knots you can pass it. We stopped once for three or four minutes and at other times we were slowed down from 10 knots to 5 and then we were off again. Fortunately Mohammed in our team is a fisherman…”
Most disappointed last night when they got in was Dee Caffari’s women’s team on Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat and Kay Heemskerk’s Dutch team on TU Delft. Having been caught in nets and then further suffering after the wind went light, they finished outside of the time limit and have been scored ‘TLE’ (time limit expired) or seven points for this leg.“It was disappointing that we didn’t get to start until five hours late and then to sail through miles of fishing nets in the dark,” said Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat’s Liz Bayliss, one of two Americans in the all-female team that also includes four Omanis.Their race effectively came to a grinding halt when they got entangled in a fishing net and remained that way for more than an hour. “We hit something and then we got stuck – the fishing boat finally came over to us and cut the net but retrieved both ends of it. There were nets everywhere,” Bayliss continued.
After the late finish the two in-port races are being held today off Al Hamra with the first start attended by H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud Al Qasimi, Crown prince of RAK and commencing at 11.00am.
Competing aboard identical Farr 30 yachts, the EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour has attracted nine crews representing five different nations, led locally by Oman’s Team Renaissance, Royal Navy of Oman, Team BAE Systems and the all – female Team Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat. Two teams will compete on behalf of the UAE, Team Abu Dhabi and Team AISM. International crews include EFG Bank (Monaco), Team Delft Challenge – TU Delft (Holland) and the Team Messe Frankfurt (EU).
Taking in four countries and eight ports of call, EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour is a showcase of everything that the Gulf has to offer in terms of state-of-the-art facilities and idyllic sailing conditions Leaving Manama on February 10th, EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour calls at Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Dibba and Mussanah and ends February 25th in Muscat. The racing will include in-port racing at selected locations
21 Olympians, 36 AC campaigns, 7 circumnavigations, 47 World Championship wins – all-star 9 nation lineup for Extreme Sailing Series 2012
With less than two weeks to go until the Extreme Sailing Series™ in Muscat, Oman, the Act 1 team line-ups have been confirmed, revealing a stellar cast of top professional sailors. Following the final event of 2011 in Singapore last December, the team managers and skippers have spent the last two months securing the best crews possible to help take them to overall victory in 2012.
Once again, the team rosters include world-renowned sailors from a multitude of backgrounds representing 9 different nationalities. French sailing superstar Loick Peyron, Britain’s three-times ISAF World Match Racing Champion Ian Williams, Austria’s double-Olympic Gold medalist Roman Hagara return to the circuit, whilst American double-Olympic Gold medalist Charlie Ogletree and five-times America’s Cup sailor, Bernard Labro from France are two new faces gracing the roll-call. The teams boast an array of Olympic, America’s Cup, match racing and round the world credentials, as well as a sprinkling of ocean racing record setters. The two key cornerstones for success in this highly competitive circuit are experience and consistency and to this end 2011 runners-up Groupe Edmond de Rothschild from France and the Swiss team of Alinghi are keeping their crew changes to a minimum, whilst the two Oman Sail teams are sporting a near new line-up with only Leigh McMillan and Nasser Al Mashari retaining their places. And there are plenty of new team combinations for this season to spice up the competition!
4 Gold Medalists + 1 Silver
36 America’s Cup campaigns
47 World Championships
28 European Championships
7 round the world circumnavigations
A new team for the year is ZouLou who will have the current superstar of sailing, Loick Peyron at the helm for Acts 1–3 prior to team owner Erik Maris taking over. One of France’s most well-known sporting exports and a legendary multihull expert who recently shaved almost 3 days off the non-stop round the world Jules Verne record, Peyron will return to the Extreme Sailing Series. In 2010 he was the skipper and helm of 4th place Oman Sail Masirah.
Peyron contrasts his recent experiences: “I can’t wait to go back to the Extreme Sailing Series with ZouLou crew, and especially to Muscat where I already spent a few weeks with the local team in 2009 and 2010. After two round the world tours in one year [Barcelona World Race and Jules Verne] I am really looking forward to going back to this intense racing amongst these top level crews.“
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild has retained their core team of Pierre Pennec on helm and Hervé Cunningham introducing two new faces on bow in the form of Bernard Labro and Jean-Christophe Mourniac who raced for another team in Singapore last December. The Swiss team Alinghi will be helmed by Ernesto Bertarelli supported by the regular Extreme 40 Alinghi crew including Tanguy Cariou, Nils Frei and Yves Detrey. Meanwhile, the renowned Austrian duo of Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher on the Red Bull Sailing Team have confirmed that Matthew Adams will be part of the regular racing crew and introduce ‘newbie’ Graeme Spence on bow who makes the step from shore team to race team.
GAC Pindar skipper Ian Williams has gone the extra mile to secure a crew who can race with him for the season: “We have assembled a really strong team this year with a great mix of different skill sets. The only real opportunities to practice will be before the first event in Oman and before Act 5 in Cardiff so having a consistent team will be crucial to improving from event to event.” His crew includes Mark Ivey, Mark Bulkeley, Adam Piggot and Andrew Walsh – all have raced with GAC Pindar for at least one event in 2011 – and this combination will be integral in continuing their upward trend on the leaderboard.
The Oman Sail teams of The Wave, Muscat and Oman Air return this year with only Olympic Tornado sailor Leigh McMillan and Nasser Al Mashari retaining their roles from last year. McMillan who skippered The Wave, Muscat into fourth place overall in 2011, has handpicked a team that includes previous Extreme 40 sailors Ed Smyth from the USA, Pete Greenhalgh who with his brother Rob won the inaugural 2007 Extreme Sailing Series, and they will be joined by newcomer Omani sailor Hashim Al Rashdi who has come up through the Oman Sail programme.
Oman Air, will be led by record setting America’s Cup sailor Morgan Larson: “I’ve followed the Extreme Sailing Series since its conception and to now be competing on the tour with such a talented group of competitors is a dream come true.” The team that last year had 3 different skippers including Britain’s Olympic star Ben Ainslie, will benefit from the Extreme 40 experience of Olympic sailor Will Howden and Omani sailor Nasser Al Mashari who raced in 2011 with Oman Air on bow, whilst double Olympic gold medalist Charlie Ogletree brings a fresh skill set.
In a test aimed at keeping opportunities open for new talent, the teams will race Act 1 with five sailors rather than four, plus a VIP guest or media person when appropriate. This additional 5th sailor must be either female or under 23, or be classified as an amateur by ISAF. Both The Wave and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild will sail with female sailors as a result – Rachel Williamson and Adeline Chatelet respectively – the first girls to race since Olympic gold medalist Shirley Robertson skippered ‘iShares’ in 2009.
An 8th team for Muscat is still to be announced.
After four months of assembly in Oman’s southern most port of Salalah, skipper Paul Standbridge has been stretching the legs of Oman Sail’s new Arabian 100 (A100) trimaran during sea-trials off the Omani coast. Now named Majan, after the ancient name for Oman, Oman Sail’s new flagship is now operational and is heading into the Gulf and a tour of neighbouring countries.
Based on the proven design of another trimaran, Sodebo, which is the holder of the solo North Atlantic crossing record, the design has been tailored for the needs of Oman Sail and their objective of training and developing Omani sailors to compete on the international stage.
The launch of Majan is an ambitious addition to the project’s mission to inspire a new generation of young Omanis. The first chapter was started when Mohsin Al Busaidi returned to the shores of Oman after successfully circumnavigating the world non-stop on Majan’s 75ft sister ship, Musandam. From there, success has followed success as the two Oman teams took 1st and 3rd in the 2009 European iShares Cup and two Omanis are currently also sailing around the world in the Clipper Race. At the heart of all this success lies the Oman Sail Academy where young Omanis are now taking part in try sailing courses and looking to emulate their peers. Oman Sail’s aims are ambitious: by 2015, the project aims to have seven academies running across the country enabling over 30,000 Omanis to try sailing.
Majan will sail with a crew of seven: 50% of the sailors will be Omani offshore trainees joined by three international professional crew and a cameraman providing the one-on-one training that the recruits require at this early stage of their career. The first chapter will be a ‘Tour of Arabia’ starting next week from Muscat, which will include stops in UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar before Majan joins the Dubai-Muscat race back to Muscat one month later.
The name Majan is used with pride within Oman and is a fitting name for a futuristic racing yacht for a country with a long maritime history. As Majan’s newest crew member, Mohsin Al Busaidi, commented “The acceleration of Majan is incredible: we moved from 20 – 30 knots in one gust of wind. We now look forward to showing the world what she can do!”