Reigning EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour champions EFG Bank Monaco (MON) today won the second leg of the round-Arabia yacht race, making amends for their last-minute defeat in event opener. After being pipped to victory by Team Renaissance (OMA) right on the line in the first leg from Oman’s capital Muscat to Sohar, EFG Bank Monaco started the second stage to Khasab determined to make up for their mistake. And they did just that. In what was another thrilling leg finish they overtook arch rivals Team Al Mouj Muscat less than ten miles from Khasab after more than 130 miles of intense racing.
EFG Bank Monaco, led by French skipper Thierry Douillard, crossed the line victorious at 12.37pm local time (GMT+4) today, 24 hours and 37 minutes after setting sail from Sohar. In a clear indication of how tight the racing was, Team Al Mouj Muscat, led by Christian Ponthieu of France, finished just three minutes later in second place. The fleet, made up of professional and amateur sailing teams from all over the world, departed Sohar at midday yesterday on the second of five offshore legs that will see the teams race 763nm around the Arabian Gulf.
The crews were practically neck and neck as they match-raced along the stunning Omani and UAE coastlines until late yesterday evening when EFG Bank Monaco, winners of the last three editions of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, snuck ahead. By the time the leading group of four boats, which also included Team Zain (KUW) and Team Renaissance, rounded the stunning Musandam Peninsula on Oman’s northern tip Team Al Mouj Muscat, with Omani sailors Sultan Al Balushi and Nawaf al Ghadani onboard, had taken the top spot back.
With around 25 miles to sail and winds of up to 30 knots blasting them along, Team Al Mouj Muscat looked like favourites to win the leg. But an inside line saw EFG Bank Monaco regain the lead once more, an advantage they were able to hang on to until the finish line just in front of Khasab’s port. Team Renaissance, skippered by Fahad Al Hasni, completed the podium eight minutes behind the leg winners having overtaken Team Zain (KUW) on the final stretch.
The victory gives EFG Bank Monaco the overall lead in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour after two legs, with three more offshore stages and two in-port race series to go. “It is a good feeling to win – it was not an easy leg at all,” Douillard said. “We led into the night but then ended up in a tricky position. The wind shift we had been waiting for came right at the end of the leg and we had a wonderful fight with Team Al Mouj Muscat for the lead. Thankfully it was a fight we won.” The second group of boats came in around an hour later, with all-woman team DB Schenker (GER) claiming fifth place, Adelasia di Torres (ITA) in sixth, Team Averda (GBR) in seventh and Bienne Voile (SUI) rounding off the leaderboard in eighth.
While in Khasab the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour sailors will be greeted by His Excellency Sayyid Khalifa bin Al Murdas bin Ahmed Al Busaidi, Governor of Musandam, at a special ceremony at Khasab Castle. “Musandam Governorate is considered to be a hub for commercial and leisure travellers given its strategic location in the Strait of Hormuz as well as its natural offerings that make it an ideal destination,” His Excellency said. “International sailing regattas such as EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour not only promote Musandam as a tourist attraction but also highlight Oman’s seafaring heritage. We look forward to welcoming all the teams after their long race from Sohar.
The teams will also take part in a beach clean-up at Bokha Beach, part of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour’s commitment to safeguarding Oman’s seas following the launch of a new marine conservation initiative by race organisers Oman Sail and integrated waste management company Averda. The fleet will begin Leg 3, a 153nm stage to UAE capital Abu Dhabi, on Sunday morning.
Results of Leg 2:
- EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard) – 1.5 points
- Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu) – 3 points
- Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni) – 4.5 points
- Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny) – 6 points
- DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes) – 7.5 points
- Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara) – 9 points
- Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker) – 10.5 points
- Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – 12 points
- EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard) – 3.5 points
- Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni) – 5.5 point
- Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu) – 6 points
- Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny) – 10 points
- Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara) – 14 points
- DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes) – 15.5 points
- Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker) – 16.5 points
- Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – 19 points