Gulf region's 'great event' in sailing comes ashore

Venues for Sailing Arabia – The Tour hailed after last leg sees close fight for places behind winners Courrier Dunkerque.

The fight for second and third spots, and fourth and fifth, were closely-contested.
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After 15 days, 1,408 kilometres and seven ports, the nine competing teams in Sailing Arabia - The Tour reached their final destination in Muscat, Oman yesterday, where the French team Courrier Dunkerque were crowned champions.

Courrier Dunkerque had an untouchable lead going into the final leg yesterday morning and took another leg win as they reached The Wave, Muscat.

"Sailing Arabia has been a great event for us," said Daniel Souben, the team's skipper. "The competition has been good and there have been lots of different conditions to contend with. This has been a great event and the Gulf is a fantastic sailing venue."

After a delayed start, it was a short upwind burst to yesterday's 10-mile course and a quick mark-rounding before the fleet headed downwind for the sprint to the finish line in seven-knots of breeze.

The battle between the BAE Systems and Commercialbank teams was tense, with the latter just one point ahead in the standings. Bertrand Pace's match-racing pedigree on Commercialbank was evident, marking BAE Systems the whole way and ultimately maintaining the upper hand, finishing in fifth, enough for the Qatari-flagged team to claim second place overall.

"The last leg was very short and most of it we were match-racing Commercialbank," BAE System's Abdullah Al Farsi said.

The all-women's team - Al Thuraya BankMuscat - and Team Renaissance, were in a similar battle for fourth and fifth.

"We knew going into today is was all on between us and the Omani boys as just one point separated us", said the Al Thuraya Bank skipper Dee Caffari, "so beating them was our priority. We did that, but I have really mixed emotions as we missed the podium."

The teams representing the Gulf sailed with a national from their country on board, a sign of the development of sailing within the region.