ABU DHABI: Dubai-based Team AISM won the second leg of the EFG Bank Sailing Arabia - The Tour following 18 hours of maximum exhilaration for the nine international and regional crews competing between Doha and Abu Dhabi.
At 159 miles, this leg from the Qatari capital, Doha was the longest of EFG Bank Sailing Arabia - The Tour, the region’s only long distance offshore race. It was sailed in 20 knot northerlies and for the crews competing aboard their one design 30ft yachts, it proved to be drama-laden with their boats pushed to the limit, resulting in numerous broaches in the brisk conditions and an incident for the Abu Dhabi team who were airlifted after running aground.
Yet for the leaders that arrived into Abu Dhabi in swift succession just before dawn this morning it was smiles all round.
At the front of the fleet a cut throat competition was going on between the three world-class heavyweights - the Bertrand Pace-steered and Dubai-based AISM, Sidney Gavignet’s team on EFG Bank (Monaco) and Cedric Pouligny on team BAE Systems. Gavignet’s team lost the lead when their yacht suffered problems with their electronics to be overtaken by Tuesday’s triple in-port race winner, AISM. Into Abu Dhabi Team AISM continued her winning streak, with Team BAE Systems second and EFG Bank (Monaco) dropping to third.
Team BAE Systems, leader going into this leg continues to hold first place but has second-placed AISM closing on them, on 6.75 points to Team BAE Systems’ 5.5.
“It was a good leg, but Bertrand is going to be hard to beat. He has a 100 per cent pro crew and they don’t mistakes,” Pouligny warned.
Volvo Ocean Race veteran Sidney Gavignet was putting a brave face on EFG Bank (Monaco) losing first place and, aside from the issue with their electrics, admitted he made a few errors due to his continued unfamiliarity with the Farr 30. However he was pleased with his team’s performance, leading for much of the leg, particularly after they had been over early at the start and had had to go back and recross the line.