Pace and AISM move into pole
Bertrand Pacé’s AISM crew proved that they can not only perform inshore, but offshore as well when they won today’s third offshore leg of the EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour.
It was an early start for the crews, but they were treated to seeing dawn break over Abu Dhabi’s magnificent skyline before getting underway in initially light conditions on the 78 mile leg, northeast up the United Arab Emirates coast from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.
Once again sneaking their way into the lead were the three usual suspects – AISM, the Cedric Pouligny-steered BAE Systems and Sidney Gavignet’s crew on EFG Bank (Monaco). Over the course of the day as the wind built to just over 10 knots, EFG Bank (Monaco) pulled into the lead when BAE Systems and EFG Bank (Monaco) became involved in their own personal match race. BAE Systems also got ahead of the trio for around an hour, but it was once again AISM, winner of the last offshore leg and the last two days of inshore racing that proved the class act, taking line honours into Dubai this evening at 17:36:17 local time, just four minutes ahead of BAE Systems, with EFG Bank (Monaco) a further 7 minutes behind.
As the boats lined up downwind, during the day the wind was veering and Pacé said their key move was getting on the inside of this shift during the criticial gybes. “I am also quite happy with our speed downwind. We were probably quicker than anyone else. We have prepared well and we try not to be too heavy.”
As a result of their victory, AISM has finally pulled into the lead overall ahead of BAE Systems, albeit only by 0.75 points.
“It was a lot of fun - a lot of strategy and positioning and also boat speed, as usual, “ said BAE Systems skipper Cédric Pouligny of today’s race. “You had to play some gybes and take some options, it was full VMG sailing, so more of a game, more fun.”
AISM got ahead of them, according to Pouligny, because of a small communication failure on their part. “We let him go on our right, we didn’t react quickly enough and then it was a fight and he overtook us and when we gybed he was ahead of us.”
Skipper of EFG Bank (Monaco), Sidney Gavignet, was once again pleased that his team was on the podium again, but less happy about their being in third place. “It is annoying to be at the back of the top three, but I think it is clearly going to be between the three boats. That is why finishing third is not bad, but not so good...”
Gavignet praised his Omani crew. “Fahad [Al Hasni] is doing very well on the trim. On the first leg he gave us some very good tips because we did the Tour de France a la Voile before, about moving the crew weight forward and aft. But neither he nor Yasser [Al Rahbi] liked the early start this morning!”
Dee Caffari’s team on Al Thuraya bank muscat was holding fourth place for most of the race but got pipped at the post by the capable Dutch student team on TU Delft.
“It was a brilliant race,” said Caffari. “It was really close racing all the way with TU Delft. We were just ahead of them at the final gate but we had to let them through on the inside. Then we were bow to transom - we did a dummy gybe and they fell for it and then it was a gybing duel to the finish and they had the windier side of the course. But it certainly focussed everyone’s attention! We had good boat speed and good manoeuvres today."
After an overnight pitstop, the EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour continues on up the UAE coast tomorrow with the short 53 mile leg from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah due to start at 1000 local time.
|2||BAE Systems||Cedric Pouligny||10.25|
|3||EFG Bank Monaco||Sidney Gavignet||12.75|
|4||Delft Challenge - TU Delft||Kay Heemskerk||19.5|
|5||Messe Frankfurt||Marcel Herrera||20.75|
|6||Renaissance||Mohsin al Busaidi||25|
|7||Al Thuraya Bank Muscat||Dee Caffari||28.5|
|8||Royal Navy of Oman||Qais al Mamari||38.75|
|9||Abu Dhabi||Adil Khaled||41.25|