Photos: Lloyd Images

Gavignet comes out on top

Sailing Arabia-The Tour concludes in Muscat

Tuesday February 25th 2014, Author: Sue Pelling, Location: Oman

A consistent performance throughout the 15 days of racing, including a second place in today’s final leg, was enough for EFG Bank (Monaco) to be crowned overall winner of the EFG Sailing Arabia–The Tour 2014.

Winner of Leg 7, after a close race to The Wave, Muscat, the Tour’s final destination, was Kay Heemskerk and his young Dutch student team on Team Delft Challenge–TU Delft. This result confirmed the team's third place overall.

Sidney Gavignet's pro team aboard EFG Bank (Monaco) finished the 760 mile Tour with an impressive scoreline of eight wins in a mix of both offshore and inport races.

Gavignet, 41, had put together a strong team for this event including leading Tour de France a la Voile veteran Cedric Pouligny and match racer Damien Iehl, plus Omani sailors, Ali Al Balushi and Mohammed Al Mujaini. The crew finished with a six point clear margin over second placed the Plymouth-based student crew aboard Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team, skippered by Marcel Herrera.

On his victory, Gavignet commented: “It is a good job done. I am very happy for the crew and EFG, and for Monaco also because we were flying the Monaco Yacht Club colours. It is a great, great race with fantastic competition. Every leg we were fighting and we only ever won by a close margin."

The crew on Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team, whose average age is 26, gave the EFG Bank (Monaco) team plenty of competition about throughout the series. Although they won one offshore leg and two inport races, but their consistency, with a string of second places, kept them in contention.

Herrera was thrilled to have finished second overall: "It is fantastic and a really great result for the team. We were always at the top with anything from a first to a third and had consistent results so I am really proud of the guys because second is fantastic for us. We will be back for sure and we'll do everything we can to promote this Tour because it is a seriously great event."

Kay Heemskerk's Delft team made a promising debut at last year’s event, finishing fourth, but proved that by focusing on intense training in the lead up to this event, they could deliver a podium position.

They had to beat American Katie Pettibone's all women's crew aboard Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat to ensure their place on the podium. The final race win for the Dutch was more than enough.

Heemskerk said: "Winning today was one of the highlights of the event. We focused on the girls on the first beat and, once ahead, we were able to sail our own race and manage to keep ahead of EFG Bank. I feel amazingly happy to have won today, and to have achieved our goal of a position on the podium. I will be back next year because it is such a beautiful area to sail. I hope that more Europeans take time to consider racing this event because it is unique and highly competitive.”

At the closing ceremony and overall prizegiving held at the Oman Sail headquarters at The Wave, Muscat, competitors and guests were honoured with the presence of His Excellency Sayyid Hamoud Bin Faisal Albusaidi – Minister of Interior.


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