While series leader Sidney Gavignet scored two firsts and a second in a trio of inshore races, his eyes were firmly fixed on the next leg of the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour from Ras al Khaimah (RAK) to Dibba in Oman. It takes the fleet of six Mumm 30 yachts through the Straits of Hormuz and, while Gavignet, is concentrating on the tactical difficulties, the organisers have been attending to escort boats from first the United Arab Emirates Navy and then the Royal Nay of Oman.
The frequency of pirate attacks has lessened, as have the political tensions between Iran and the United States, but great care is being taken over the safety of the competitors.
Gavignet, who is close to ensuring that his hands will be on the trophy at the finish in Muscat next weekend, expects it to be a race of two halves into Dibba. The first should be straightforward down the coast but turning the corner brings into play winds affected by the mountains on their right. Spectacular, but tactically treacherous.
The forecast is for 15 5o 20 knots o west to south west breeze. “That should be quick but , then, I am expecting the fleet to compress and we could even see what would be a new start,” says Gavignet. “We need to eliminate any mistakes. There is still a long way to go.”
Rueing a couple of mistakes was Marcel Herrera, whose Plymouth University-backed crew on Messe Frankfurt is still comfortable second overall. But a twisted spinnaker in the first race, and a penalty turn for a premature start in the second delivered two fourths.
Better than the third race, where Herrera’s boat, on a short course close to land, ran aground and had to be pushed back into deeper water by a rigid inflatable boat. As outside assistance is forbidden he was forced to retire.
Perhaps the absence of navigator Coriolan Rousselle was being felt as he stayed closeted in his hotel room poring over chats and satellite weather information about the next leg.
The all-woman crew led by Kate Pettibone cahsed in with two thirds, but they moved a point behind third overall Team Delft.
At least they competed. The Royal Navy of Oman arrived at the marina just in time for the prize giving and lunch.
1 EFG Bank (S Gavignet) 7pts
2 Messe Frankfurt (M Herrera) 13.75
3 Team Delft (K Heemskerk) 20.5
4 Bank of Muscat (K Pettibone) 21.5
5 Renaissance (M al Busaidi) 26
6 Royal Navy of Oman (A al Alawi) 34.25