Young Brits come out on top
Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team came out on top in the first in-port racing of the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour winning races today off Doha. The young British team skippered by Marcel Herrera now tops the leaderboard just half a point ahead of event favourite, the Sidney Gavignet-skippered EFG Bank (Monaco).
Fresh from the opening leg of the race between Bahrain and Doha, Qatar when they finished just 25 seconds behind Gavignet's crew, Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team excelled in the two windward-leewards, held in shifty 12 knot northwesterlies owing to the shadow effects of the tall surrounding buildings.
Their Farr 30 led round the first mark in race one to win the race by 21 seconds from EFG Bank (Monaco), and repeated the performance in race two, this time just three seconds ahead of Gavignet's crew.
A delighted Herrera said he couldn’t believe how close it was, but more than anything, he was keen to praise the performance of his team: “I am really, really proud of the guys because we definitely feel we had the edge on speed today. We were really ready for the inport racing because the guys were really switched on after the previous day’s performance. We all really wanted it and we all did our best.”
Commenting on the Qatari venue, Herrera added: “The Pearl is a fantastic place and we feel honoured to be here in this fabulous marina. As a sailing venue I would highly recommend this place and I seriously think there should be more sailing events in Doha. I, for one, would love to return.”
The second leg from Doha to Abu Dhabi, UAE, will start tomorrow (Wednesday) and at 159 miles, is the longest leg of the EFG Sailing Arabia–The Tour 2014.
Commenting on what competitors can expect, Race Director Gilles Chiorri said: “Although this leg is known for its gas and oil rigs scattered along the coast we, as a race team, have been careful to make sure the route is safe which means we have included a lot of waypoints and passing marks to keep the fleet well clear of danger areas.”
Kay Heemskerk, skipper of Team Delft Challenge–TU Delft from the Netherlands, which currently lies third overall with a consistent string of third places, looked at the forecast for Leg 2: “The weather situation shows that it is likely to be all downwind, which is fast but there are less options for overtaking. It will also be fairly light at the start, so full focus will be on speed 100 per cent of the time. We are expecting the race will take 25 hours and we are hoping to step up our performance and improve on our string of third places so far.”