EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour continued its adventure around Oman on Thursday as the coastline around the port town of Duqm provided the battleground for the second of five coastal races.
The coastal raid saw the fleet of eight international teams set out from their base at the Port of Duqm and race 23 miles in their super-quick Diam 24 multihulls.
There were numerous position changes as the teams from Oman, Monaco, France, Britain, Switzerland and Germany went head-to-head for the fourth time so far in EFG Sailing Arabia the Tour.
On Wednesday Duqm hosted the regatta’s second round of stadium racing whereby the teams do battle in multiple races round a short, inshore course.
It follows a series of stadium races and a coastal raid in the southern city of Salalah, where the 2018 edition of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour kicked off on February 4.
Now in its eighth year, the 14-day regatta continues to attract some of the world’s best sailors thanks to the high level of competition on offer combined with the perfect sailing conditions provided by Oman’s temperate climate.
Having been forced to settle for third place in the Duqm stadium race series yesterday, current regatta leaders Beijaflore returned to winning ways after an intense scrap for the top spot with rivals Averda and reigning EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour champions EFG Bank Monaco.
The young French side finished third in the Tour Voile – the world’s largest regatta for Diam 24s – last year, and so far they have been the team to beat in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, winning both racing disciplines in Salalah.
After a strong start, Beijaflore had a narrow lead over British/Omani crew Averda as the fleet approached the tiny island of Jazirat Hamar an Nafur, a few miles from Duqm.
But both teams sailed straight into a wind hole and stopped dead in the water, helpless as EFG Bank Monaco, Cheminees Poujoulat and Lorina Golfe du Limonade sailed round the outside of them.
Just as it looked like Beijaflore’s lead would be snatched away from them they caught a lucky puff of wind, escaping the clutches of the wind shadow with the tiniest of advantages.
Averda, led by British Olympian Stevie Morrison, weren’t so lucky, slipping to sixth overall.
Having had their lead threatened once the Beijaflore crew weren’t prepared to let it slip through their hands again – and they crossed the line in first place after almost four hours of testing racing to not only take the win but consolidate their place at the top of the overall rankings.
“We were very focused on the start of this coastal race – we trained a lot before the race and it paid off,” said Beijaflore helmsman Guillaume Pirouelle. “We had a great start, and after that we were quite confident in our position for the rest of the race. We saw that Averda had very good downwind speed on the third leg but we tried to do our best to stay in front of them. It’s good to have a fast boat behind you, it makes you go quicker.”
Meanwhile, Averda clawed their way back up to second place thanks to an extra boost of downwind speed from Omani trimmer Abdulrahman Al Mashari and canny tactics from new crewman Nic Asher, a former member of the British Sailing Team.
They crossed the finish line just ahead of EFG Bank Monaco crew Thierry Douillard, Mathieu Richard and Ali Al Balushi, their teammates with Oman Sail’s Tour Voile squad.
“It’s great to finish in second where we started the race – I feel we deserve that,” said Morrison, whose team now sits third on the overall scoreboard behind EFG Bank Monaco.
EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour now heads to the paradise island of Masirah for a coastal raid on February 10 and a round of stadium racing the following day.
The tour will take in Ras Al Hadd, Sur, and Bandar Al Rowdha before concluding in Muscat’s old in Muscat’s old town of Mutrah on February 17.
in Muscat’s old town of Mutrah on February 17.
Results of Duqm Coastal Raid:
1- Beijaflore (Valentin Bellet) – 1 pts
2- Averda (Stevie Morrison) – 2 pts
3- EFG Bank (Thierry Douillard) – 3 pts
4- Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm)– 4 pts
5- Lorina Golfe du Morbihan (Solune Robert)– 5 pts
6- Vivacar.fr (Matthieu Souben) – 6 pts
7- Renaissance (Cedric Pouligny) – 7 pts
8- DB Schenker (Elodie Mettraux) – 8 pts
1- Beijaflore (Valentin Bellet) – 5 pts
2- EFG Bank (Thierry Douillard) – 12 pts
3- Averda (Stevie Morrison) – 14 pts
4- Lorina Golfe du Morbihan (Solune Robert)– 15 pts
5- Vivacar.fr (Matthieu Souben) – 18 pts
6- Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm)– 20 pts
7- Renaissance (Cedric Pouligny) – 29 pts
8- DB Schenker (Elodie Mettraux) – 31 pts