EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour title contenders EFG Bank Monaco (MON) and Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA) continued their podium domination today in a nail-biting second round of inshore racing. The rival crews, both vying for the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2017 trophy, proved themselves experts at boat handling as the eight-strong fleet did battle around a short course off Doha, Qatar.
Both teams scored a win and a runner’s-up finish in the two intense races held in a building breeze of up to 10 knots. The action also saw a welcome return to form for Team Averda (GBR), notching up a third and fourth to claim the final Doha in-port series podium spot.
Team Al Mouj Muscat, led by Christian Ponthieu, opened their scorecards with victory, capitalising on a bad start by EFG Bank Monaco. It looked like they would pull off the double after snatching the lead from their arch rivals in race two when a shackle on the end of EFG Bank Monaco’s spinnaker pole came open.
But current EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour title holders EFG Bank Monaco put their match racing world champion helmsman Mathieu Richard to work and they snuck ahead just on the finish line to reverse the results of the opening race. The equal share means the gap between the two teams in the overall standings remains the same at a slim four points, with only one offshore leg and one in-port race series remaining.
“It was great fun to do some inshore racing after four offshore legs, it’s a completely different game,” EFG Bank Monaco skipper Thierry Douillard said. “It was an amazing battle between us and Team Al Mouj Muscat but importantly that four-point gap is still there between us. We haven’t lost any points to them and we ended the day by rolling them right on the line. That’s better for us than for them for sure.”
Team Al Mouj Muscat trimmer Will Harris said his team were more determined than ever to overhaul their rivals as EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour reaches its climax. “It was an incredible fight between us and EFG Bank Monaco,” Harris said. “We’re a bit gutted to be pipped by them in the second race but we’re happy with how we sailed, and we know this rivalry is going to carry on to the end of the tour. The next leg is worth more than any other leg and we’re going for first place for sure. We’ve proved we can match them offshore and now inshore so we’ll fight right to the end.”
Team Zain (KUW) inched closer to Team Renaissance in the overall standings thanks to a fifth and a third, keeping their dreams of an overall podium finish alive. “We were a bit rusty in the first race but for the second we were on form,” said Team Zain crewman Michael Miller. “Most importantly we put points on Team Renaissance, which at this point of the race is very welcome.”
Team Averda’s results see them jump up the leaderboard into fifth place ahead of Bienne Voile (SUI), Adelasia di Torres (ITA) and DB Schenker (GER).
Following the racing, a prize giving ceremony was held for Leg 4 and the Doha in-port race series at The Pearl-Qatar. At 205 nautical miles the final offshore stage, startingtomorrow, is the longest of the five legs, and will see the fleet have to pick their way through oil fields and round islands over more than 32 hours at sea.
EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2017 will then reach its climax with an in-port race series in Dubai on Wednesday, March 1st.
Results of In-Port Race:
- EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard) – 0.75 points
- Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu) – 0.75 points
- Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker) – 1.75 points
- Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny) – 2 points
- Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – 3 points
- Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni) – 3 points
- Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara) – 3 points
- DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes) – 3.25 points
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