Game of two halves
After a close, tactical 104 mile race from Ras Al Khaimah, UAE through the Strait of Hormuz to Dibba, Oman, Sidney Gavignet's overall leader EFG Bank (Monaco) narrowly beat Marcel Herrera's UK student team on Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team to win leg five of EFG Sailing Arabia–The Tour.
Conditions for the leg were true to form, the race turning into a game of two halves, with the first part blessed with lively, power reaching conditions in winds of up to 17 knots, and the second half down the east side of the Musandam Peninsula dogged by light, shifty winds in the lee of the mountains.
Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team reveled in the conditions at the start to lead for the first 10-hours, but when the race re-started in the Strait of Hormuz, Katie Pettibone and her all girl team on Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat, EFG Bank (Monaco), Kay Heemskerk's Dutch student crew on Team Delft Challenge–TU Delft, and Team Renaissance, skippered by Mohsin Al Busaidi, all led at some stage.
Sidney Gavignet said this leg was the highlight of his Tour so far: “It was a memorable and interesting leg. It was also a very tight race and we were first, last at different points in the race. It would have been so easy to finish fourth or fifth, in fact we nearly did because we were trailing as we approached the finish line.
“We made a good tactical move at the last moment and sailed outside a small island to pick up a bit more wind, then 100m off the finish line we got stuck in a hole but just got lucky enough to cross in front of Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team but by just over a minute.”
Marcel Herrera said of the leg: “It was an enjoyable race, but tough and really hard to hold a lead. We worked hard and were pleased to hang on to our lead in the first part of the race, but when the wind went fickle through the Strait and down the other side, it was anyone’s guess who would come out on top. Hence we all took a turn at leading at some point.”
Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat finished in third place. Katie Pettibone's all-female team was pleased to have kept Team Delft Challenge–TU Delft behind in the closing stages of the leg, to finish third, leaving them in third overall at this stage of the Tour.
Pettibone commented: “The leg was one of ups and downs. We had wonderful downwind legs, led the race for a while, and it was great to finally be able to round the peninsular in the light, unlike previous years. It was also frustrating at time particularly the shifts on the last stretch. Every time we tacked we seemed get headed but hey, we finished third and we are pleased with that.”
For the next two days the fleet is based at Six Senses Zighy Bay located in a large natural harbour at Musandam Peninsula. Here crews can enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and prepare for tomorrow’s final Inport races.