Day 5: Prize giving and offshore leg 2...
Day 5: Prize giving and offshore leg 2...
Good morning all from Abu Dhabi. Firstly Happy valentines day from all at Team Messe Frankfurt it appears that going to lengths as extreme as competing in the middle east cannot hide us from it!
Tuesday afternoon brought with it the prize giving for offshore leg 1, in which the team came a resounding third. An awesome result for a team sailing its first regatta together in this type of boat. After months of training back home on the Solent we were all absolutely stoked by the result! So to celebrate we headed back to our hotel for a good nights sleep in anticipation of what was to come on Wednesday. With the wind building to 25 Knots gusting 30 and the added danger of oil rigs, tankers, exclusion zones and very shallow water offshore leg 2 was certainly not going to be easy!
As the team woke up for a hearty breakfast PK ran his last routing and checked the forecast. As predicted it was going to be a fast downwind leg into Abu Dhabi. With the race starting at 1pm (local) the course was set. As the race committee started the countdown 3 boats crossed the start-line early resulting in individual recalls for EFG bank Monaco and Alterya the all female boat while BAE systems realized their mistake and rounded the start-line before the call was made. Team Messe Frankfurt however had a fantastic start propelling them to first place as they rounded the windward mark.
As the battle for places continued a split became apparent with Sidney Gavinet and Dee Caffari choosing the shoreside while the remaining 7 chose the offshore route. Theintensity of the sailing became apparent when after 45 minuets of racing Team Delft and Renaissance both became grounded on the ever moving sand banks. Delft managed to get themselves off without assistance but Renaissance had to use the engine to clear the obstruction.
Over the afternoon the race gathered momentum with boats averaging 14 knots, Team Messe Frankfurt was still positioned in first some 300m in front of Bertrand Pacé and 1 nm in front of BAE systems. As the teams started to approach the first way point (A small island called: Jazirat Shara’wah - commonly used by local fishermen as a place of rest) a convergence of the fleet became apparent with the teams opting for the inshore route meeting that of those who had taken the offshore. As the mark was rounded we had dropped back into fourth albeit only 1 minuet 27 seconds behind first place so with over 100 km to go everything was still very much to play with!
After swapping positions with the front three boats throughout the evening the next official clock in was a virtual waypoint keeping the fleet out of the hundreds of oil rigs around these waters. They are huge in size and seem to appear out of know where with their hugely impressive 30ft flame lighting the sky and giving us a gentle warning to give them a wide birth!
Along with oil rigs, tankers, unlit fishing vessels and the 25 knots of breeze making life very difficult for the teams, the race took a turn for the worst. At around 12 Midnight the Race committee received a call regarding a boat in distress. Yet another boat had fallen foul to unmapped rocks and sand banks. Where Team delft and Renaissance became grounded on sand Team Abu Dhabi hit rocks whilst flying the fractional kite at speeds of around 14 knots
piercing the hull allowing water to enter. With a mayday call put out the Abu Dhabi coast guard scrambled a helicopter to their position and had all 6 crew onboard by 4:20 am. The boat however is a write off - so our condolences go out to the team who have so far sailed a good race and put a lot of time and effort into their campaign.
As the race neared completion Team Messe Frankfurt were in fourth with 2 miles to go, but the crew of Team Delft pulled it out of the bag and rolled us at the very end stages. Although we were of course very pleased with the way we sailed our race it was disappointing to loose 4th place. The Dutch team did themselves proud!
As for now the team has two days off until the inshore series on Saturday. With the possibility of more training tomorrow it would be great to get out on the water again. However with option of the pool, a large comfy bed, Ferrari world and the Yas Marina F1 circuit being a stones throw away we will have to see what happens!
To follow the race as it unfolds and watch our progress you can get involved through any of the following links:
Race Tracker: http://www.sailingarabiathetour.com/page/Track-the-Race