Muscat, 5th July 2019: Oman Sail is making its most determined and wide-reaching bid for success in the challenging Tour Voile event with no fewer than four teams ready to start racing this Friday, July 5. The bold attempt to achieve at least a podium place at the end of the classic 16-day marathon race around France coincides with Oman Sail’s 10th anniversary, giving the teams an extra impetus to reach their objectives.
Leading the charge for a top-three finish are two of Oman Sail’s most experienced race teams – EFG Private Bank Monaco led by the respected French racer Pierre Pennec and Renaissance Services skippered by British Olympic sailor Stevie Morrison. Both teams have reconfirmed their potential racing the high-speed Diam 24 trimarans with podium finishes at events earlier this year, not least Morrison’s third place finish at Sailing Arabia – The Tour in Oman.
They are backed up by two development squads with the all-women Sailing Arabia The Tour team led by seasoned French multihull racer Audrey Ogereau, and the all-Omani crewed Team Oman Sail skippered by Akram Al Wahaibi.
Oman Sail CEO David Graham says this attempt on the Tour Voile is indicative of the progress made by Oman Sail since it was established 10 years ago.
“Working with our local and international partners, we’re really pleased to be racing with four teams this year,” he said.
“The event is the culmination of years of hard work and we’re happy to be sailing with one 100% Omani team, an all-female team, and two teams that will be fighting for a podium position.”
“France is a key market for the Ministry of Tourism and the event has proven to be an excellent team development and media platform. The Tour Voile is an absolute classic which tests both endurance and tactics, offering an ideal and well-rounded experience for our sailors.”
Oman Sail teams finished in fifth place in both the 2016 and 2017 Tour Voiles, improving with a fourth place finish last year, a position they are aiming to improve on in 2019 with a step up to the podium.
The EFG Private Bank Monaco crew of Pennec, Corentin Horeau and former star Laser sailor Hussein Al Jabri has two podium finishes to its credit already this year, with third place finishes at both the large international Spi Ouest-France regatta and the Normandie Cup racing against the leading Diam 24 teams.
Meanwhile Morrison’s Renaissance Services team of Quentin Ponroy and Abdul-Rahman Al Mashari secured third place at the Grand Prix Ecole Navale event in June, also facing a highly-competitive fleet.
At the same time the Sailing Arabia The Tour squad of Ogereau, Maelenn Lemaitre, Ibtisam Al Salmi, Marwa Al Kaifi and Tami Al Balushi, as well as Team Oman Sail team of Al Wahaibi, Haitham Al Wahaibi, Raad Al Hadi and Yasser Al Rahbi, have both shown improving results as they follow their development pathway with the support of the race squads.
The experienced Morrison says all four teams have something to play for over the coming few weeks, with a top-three finish a realistic goal for the two race teams.
“Our hopes are to be on the podium and maybe at the top of the podium,” he said. “We are right in the mix – we are not a favourite but we are one of the names on the list who could be up there.
“We will need to sail our best and probably have a bit of luck. On our day we can both win, but on the Tour Voile you have to keep on doing it for a lot of days and that’s where we have to find the balance so we can be fit and fighting hard right to the end.”
Oman Sail’s National Team Manager Rashid Al Said added that the two development teams “are taking on an amazing challenge”.
“For the Omani girls in particular it as unique as they have never done it before and experienced the atmosphere, the work, and just the whole format of the Tour Voile.
“You can’t really do a dress rehearsal driving around France and rigging and derigging the boats half a dozen times over two weeks, so for both it is a massive opportunity to learn – though they have the ability to do well in particular races.”
The Tour Voile begins on Friday with three days of mixed coastal and stadium racing in Dunkerque, northern France, before the 23 teams in the fleet move en masse down the coast to Fécamp, the second of seven venues.
The event concludes with two days of racing on the 20th and 21st July in Nice on France’s southern Mediterranean coast.