French sailing star Thierry Douillard avenged a shock last-minute defeat in the opening stage of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour by snatching victory in round two of the Gulf classic on Friday 17 Feb.
Riled by the Leg 1 result, in which his EFG Bank Monaco (MON) crew were pipped to victory by Team Renaissance (OMA) right on the line, Douillard began the 140-nautical mile sprint from Sohar to Khasab determined to make up for their mistake.
In another thrilling leg finish EFG Bank Monaco, who have won the past three editions of the 763nm race around the Arabian Gulf, overtook arch rivals Team Al Mouj Muscat less than ten miles from Khasab, on Oman’s stunning Musandam Peninsula.
Douillard’s men crossed the line victorious on Friday, 24 hours and 37 minutes after setting sail from Sohar and just three minutes ahead of Team Al Mouj Muscat, led by fellow countryman Christian Ponthieu.
EFG Bank Monaco’s win, their first of this year’s EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, moves them to the top of the overall standings after two legs, with three offshore stages and two in-port race series still remaining.
“It is a good feeling to win – it was not an easy leg at all,” said Douillard, one of France’s top sailors and a familiar face in the America’s Cup, Extreme Sailing Series and World Match Racing Tour.
“We had a wonderful fight with Team Al Mouj Muscat for the lead, and thankfully it was a fight we won. Each mistake you make costs a lot so it was a massive effort for my boys but they did a great job, and we plan to keep doing that.”
Despite the intensity of the leg, Will Harris on Al Mouj Muscat found the time to look up from the rail to admire Musandam: “The coastline we sailed past on Leg 2 was pretty impressive. When we were sailing round the peninsula we saw lots of islands which were incredible, huge cliffs, and not a person in sight for 100 miles of the 150-mile leg. It was pretty windy at the time and we were blasting along getting pretty wet so I didn’t have too many moments to soak up the scenery but it was still an amazing leg.”
Team Renaissance, led by talented Omani skipper Fahad Al Hasni, added to their Leg 1 win with a solid third-place finish in Leg 2 after overtaking Team Zain (KUW) on the final sprint to the line. It is the second time in two legs that Team Zain has taken fourth place.
“We were fighting hard and were in contention for a podium position for a long time but we got stuck in a wind hole and that allowed Team Renaissance to come back at us,” Zain skipper Cedric Pouligny said. “We gave it our all!”
The second half of the fleet came in just an hour later, with all-female team DB Schenker (GER) beating Adelasia di Torres (ITA) to fifth place, their best result so far.
“We were having a great match race with the Italian team which thankfully we won in the last few hours of the leg,” said Dutch skipper Annemieke Bes, who leads a crew of European and Omani sailors. “It was a great feeling to finish a leg like that. We really want to win but we have to be honest – fifth is a great result for us.”
Team Averda (GBR) finished seventh and Bienne Voile (SUI) rounded off the leaderboard in eighth.
The fleet will begin Leg 3, a 153nm stage to UAE capital Abu Dhabi, on Sunday morning.
For Bienne Voile skipper Lorenz Mueller, Leg 3 presents an opportunity for the Swiss team to rise through the rankings.
“Our competitive spirit is strong and every leg is a new chance for us!” he said.
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Results of Leg 2:
1. EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard) – 1.5 points
2. Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu) – 3 points
3. Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni) – 4.5 points
4. Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny) – 6 points
5. DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes) – 7.5 points
6. Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara) – 9 points
7. Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker) – 10.5 points
8. Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – 12 points
1. EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard) – 3.5 points
2. Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni) – 5.5 point
3. Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu) – 6 points
4. Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny) – 10 points
5. Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara) – 14 points
6. DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes) – 15.5 points
7. Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker) – 16.5 points
8. Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – 19 points
9. Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – 19 points
by Oman Sail