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Khasab - EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour© Mark Lloyd

EFG Sailing Arabia 2016

The 2016 edition of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is set for a nail-biting showdown after Omani crew Al Mouj, Muscat bested Sidney Gavignet’s overall leaders EFG Bank Monaco in the penultimate stage.

French sailing star Gavignet went into the 140 nautical mile leg from Khasab on Oman’s Musandam peninsula to Sohar in pole position after winning two of the three previous offshore legs of the tour.

But the Al Mouj, Muscat crew, led by fellow Frenchman Nico Lunven, put a dent in reigning EFG SATT champion Gavignet’s domination by snatching victory in a fast and furious downwind sprint south along Oman’s stunning coastline.

British title contenders Team Averda also managed to hold off EFG Bank Monaco to claim the runner up spot in the leg, the fourth of five that make up the 730nm adventure around the Arabian Gulf.

The results mean that everything is to play for in the final leg of the event, a 100nm dash from Sohar to Oman’s capital Muscat starting on Sunday.

EFG Bank Monaco go into the finale with an eight-point lead over closest rivals Team Averda, but Marcel Herrera’s men could still win the title if they finish the leg in first and Gavignet’s crew come last.

However they will also have to defend their second place from Al Mouj, Muscat who now sit just 0.75 points behind them after today’s leg four triumph.

Dee Caffari’s Oman Airports-Al Thuraya Women’s Team were handed maximum points for the leg after missing the cut off time to finish.

2016 EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour set for a nail-biting showdown

Khasab – EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour© Mark Lloyd

“Leg four was great racing – lots of fighting, lots of position changes but pretty tiring as well,” said Gavignet, who has won the past two editions of EFG SATT with EFG Bank Monaco.

“We made a few small mistakes but we’re happy with third place, we did a good job.

“We are quite comfortable at the top of the leaderboard but we still need to finish.

“At some points of leg four we were not very far from last where a few minutes before we had been in first.

“It goes to show that no race is decided until it is over.”

German-born Brit Herrera added: “As far as exciting racing goes it doesn’t get much better than that.

“We’re very happy with second, especially after coming fifth on the previous leg.

“We beat EFG Bank Monaco and Al Mouj, Muscat beat us so everything gets much tighter at the top going into the final leg.

“It now all comes down to what happens on Sunday.”

Al Mouj, Muscat sailor Abdulazziz Al Obidani, who has competed in three previous editions of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, said his crew’s win will give them a timely boost going into the final leg.

“This was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done – no one team led the leg from the beginning to the end and the lead was constantly changing,” he said.

2016 EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour set for a nail-biting showdown

Khasab – EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour© Mark Lloyd

“We are really proud of what we did on this leg. To come back home to Oman with a win gives us strength to push for the final leg to Muscat.

“Sailing Arabia – The Tour is really tough and all the teams are at a very high level so we now have to focus on the fight for leg five.”

Leg four results:

Al Mouj, Muscat (OMA/Nico Lunven)
Team Averda (GBR/Marcel Herrera)
EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Sidney Gavignet)
TU Delft Challenge (NED/Wouter Sonnema)
Renaissance Services (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni)
Team Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller)
Team Zain (KWT/Cedric Pouligny)
Team Mangold (GER/Martin Felgenhauer)
Oman Airports-Al Thuraya Women’s Team (OMA/Dee Caffari)

Overall results:

EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Sidney Gavignet)
Team Averda (GBR/Marcel Herrera)
Al Mouj, Muscat (OMA/Nico Lunven)
Renaissance Services (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni)
Team Zain (KWT/Cedric Pouligny)
TU Delft Challenge (NED/Wouter Sonnema)
Team Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller)
Oman Airports-Al Thuraya Women’s Team (OMA/Dee Caffari)
Team Mangold (GER/Martin Felgenhauer)

by Oman Sail

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