Abu Dhabi: The countdown to the start of 2014 EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour has begun with the six crews arriving in Bahrain to make their final preparations.
The fleet of identical Farr 30 boats will be based at the Amwaj Marina in Manama until February 9, when they set off on the first leg to Doha in Qatar — a distance of 100 nautical miles that will be an opportunity for all crews to lay down vital markers in the region’s only long-distance offshore sailing race, which will go on to visit the UAE and Oman.
Ali Al Fardan, General Manager of Amwaj Marina, said: “It’s an exciting time to visit the marina. There is so much energy as the sailors get acquainted with their boats and make adjustments before the start of the race. Some of these teams are just getting together for the first time, so this week we’re getting a first glimpse of, not only the boats, but the teams and how they’re working together. It’s truly the first glimpse of what’s to come over the next 15 days.
“For some of the sailors this is their first time to the region and we’re pleased to welcome them to our facilities and show them some of the cultural delights the region has to offer and our rich maritime history. Based on these few days alone, we at Amwaj Marina know it’s going to be a great race.”
One of the crews meeting up for the first time in Bahrain is Sidney Gavignet’s professional team. They have done zero training together but have emerged as the boat to beat in the 760nms endurance race around the Gulf due to the expertise and experience they have on board, including two of Oman’s young sailing prospects Ali Al Beloushi and Mohammad Al Mujaini.
“We’ll have two days of training just before the start,” Gavignet said. “On paper we have a very good team compared to the others and we will be going all out to win. Our sponsors EFG International want us to win so we will be trying to make them happy.
“But Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team are bringing their own boat and were definitely fast last year, so they could spring a surprise. We are expecting a very intense race — you arrive at night, go sailing in shore the next day then leave on the next leg early the following morning. It will be fun.”