Happily married couples tie love in knots for Sailing Arabia – The Tour

When the 2016 Sailing Arabia – The Tour launched Tuesday, the members of Team Mangold were experiencing the Arabian seas for the first time. Within the team, though, some of the crew members could not be more familiar with each other, with not one but two married couples on board.

EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour 2015. Photo Courtesy: Hill+Knowlton Strategies
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When the 2016 Sailing Arabia – The Tour launched Tuesday, the members of Team Mangold were experiencing the Arabian seas for the first time.

Within the team, though, some of the crew members could not be more familiar with each other, with not one but two married couples on board: Austrian skipper Martin Felgenhauer and wife Maria, and Helmut and Theresia Mangold from Germany.

A lifetime in sailing

“I watched the Volvo Ocean Race very closely when it came to the UAE,” Martin Felgenhauer said as he prepared for the Dubai-Abu Dhabi leg. “But that was my only experience.”

In announcing their participation, Helmut had said the team was here for a “fun” adventure. But once the action started, according to Martin, all eyes would be on the finish line.

“Whenever you enter a race, you need to have the attitude to win it,” he said. “I know that I’m sailing against strong competition, and professionals, and our chances are probably not that high. But you need to do everything to give your best.”

Alongside him will be his wife of 29 years, Maria. They met during a sailing competition and the sport has been apart of their life since. “This is on my vacation time, and not doing this together would really be a shame,” Martin said.

“The few weeks in the year when you do vacation, if you do it separately then it’s not a partnership any more. Find something that you like and do it together.”

The years of sailing and living together means they have became attuned to each other’s thoughts. Anticipating his wife’s movements on the boat, and vice versa, is second nature to Martin, and he has full confidence in Maria’s capabilities.

“We know each other’s strengths and I know I can trust her,” he said.

Small boat on big trip

Team Mangold will line up against eight other identical Farr 30s boats, with the crew completed by tactician and navigator Martin Lindner, Doris Ruskovic and Tom Zahalka.

“I’m expecting something of a little adventure. It’s a small boat on a big journey,” Helmut said.

“Usually I sail with my wife on bigger boats where you can sleep on nice beds,” he said. “But this time we have night sailing, and one leg is even 48 hours. Two nights in boat where there are no beds, no bathroom, nothing – this is new to us.”

Like the Felgenhauers, Helmut and Theresia met while sailing, four years ago, and got married a year later. They seem to revel in sending up married life. It is all good natured, of course.

“Actually sometimes it would be better not to sail together,” he said. “I want to have more adventure and she wants less adventure. But on the other hand it’s always perfect to do things together, so it’s a compromise. This time she’s doing my adventure, and next time I probably have to climb Kilimanjaro.”

The topic of sailing is never far away, and inevitably it spills over into their home life.

“Of course I love to talk about sailing and my wife maybe wants to talk about experiencing new cultures, world heritage sites and not as much about sports.”

A new adventure

For Theresia, Sailing Arabia is a chance to experience another new culture.

“It’s great to be in Dubai, to see the skyline, it’s such great scenery to go sailing to,” she said. “You get to do some sight seeing with the sailing here.”

Sailing with her husband has its ups and downs, she jokes.

“For the relationship it’s not so easy,” she said, a laugh betraying any genuine irritation. “Of course, we talk about sailing a lot at home. It’s a little bit difficult because he’s the boss all the time. It works because he’s always very eager.”

Apart from being alongside the “boss”, she is looking forward to sailing on a new boat. “It’s small boat, it’s little bit old, and we had to get it prepared,” she said.

Theresia says having other women sailors on the boat is always welcome.

“The ladies are always freezing, so we got a lot of clothes with us,” she added, the chuckle not too far away. “It’s always better to have several women on the boat. We do the catering and the men appreciate that.”

“And yes we can talk about the men, too.”

A lasting friendship

For the past eight years, Helmut has run the annual Mangold Cup in the Adriatic Sea, a competition that Martin has won three times. It is at that event that the two struck up a friendship.

“We enjoy socialising with them a lot,” Helmut said. “For the last eight years, I’ve been organising the one-week regatta in the Mediterranean Sea off Croatia. The boats are 45-feet long, every day there are one or two races and we sleep in different marinas each night. That’s how I met Martin and Maria, and that’s what I do once a year. Now I’m trying out something different.”

Martin says the two couples try to hook up at least once a year. “Helmut and I became good friends through sailing in Croatia and we meet at least once a year outside the racing.”

The Austrian could not resist a reminder of why they are now crew mates. “We’ve not sailed together with them before,” Martin added.

“I’ve spent quite a lot of time racing against Helmut. And the point is I was always winning against him and he said ‘one day I want to sail with you, I want to see how you do it’.

“So we took the opportunity to do Sailing Arabia together.”

The teams

EFG Bank Monaco (MON)

Skipper: Sidney Gavinet

EFG bank Monaco have won Sailing Arabia – the Tour five times out of it’s six editions, and will again start as favourites.

Oman Airports-Al Thuraya Women’s Team (OMA)

Skipper: Dee Caffari

The only all-female crew in the competition will once again look to take huge strides on the way to the finishing line in their home country.

Team Delft Challenge (NED)

Skipper: Wouter Sonnema

The team of Dutch university students will take part in their fourth Sailing Arabia race.

Team Averda (UK)

Skipper: Marcel Herrera

Twice runner up at Sailing Arabia, the team’s skipper will be hoping to go one better with his young crew of Team Averda.

Team Bienne Voile (SUI)

Skipper: Lorenz Muller

With physicist, mathematician, physiotherapist, architect and a gifted 17-year-old schoolboy, the Swiss amateur team will be one of the most diversely gathered crews in the competition.

Renaissance Services (OMA)

Skipper: Fahad Al Hasni

The team made up of a fully Omani crew will be looking to further raise the profile of sailing in the country.

Team Mangold (GER)

Skipper: Martin Felgenhauer

With a mixture of experience, two married couples and friends, the German team are looking for a new adventure in their first Sailing Arabia race

Team Al Mouj (OMA)

Skipper: Gilles Favennec

Making their Sailing Arabia debut, the experienced Omani-French crew has veteran of the Volvo Ocean race among other major races.

Zain Sailing Team (KWT)

Skipper: Cedric Pouligny

The Kuwaiti team shocked their more experienced rivals by winning a leg and finishing third overall in 2015, leading to barrage of applications for crew memberships.​

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