Sidney Gavignet of Oman Sail project wins first leg of EFG Sailing Arabia
Marcel Herrera and the crew of Messe Frankfurt finished just behind
It took round-the-world veteran Sidney Gavignet all his strength and guile to shake off a determined crew built around Plymouth University students to win the first leg of the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour from Bahrain to Doha, Qatar.
The Frenchman, who is the leading skipper of the Oman Sail project, had to fight every yard of the 100 miles to overcome his 21-year old opponent, Marcel Herrera and the crew of Messe Frankfurt and by just three lengths of their identical Mumm 30 yachts.
Such was the intensity of the competition that both yachts ran aground seeking inshore advantage and Herrera led for much of the first half of the race.
Another student team from Delft in The Netherlands claimed the remaining top three place on a course where northerly, but cold, winds made for fast running south.
Before the start, the American Katie Pettibone, had warned “the boys had better watch out” and, sure enough, her all-woman crew beat both of their two rival Omani entries, the Omani Navy crew coming dead last. Pettibone is part of a much wider Omani programme designed to encourage Omani women to take up sport and is back for her second tour. Her fledglings delivered.
The start had been postponed for nearly 24 hours to take delivery of distress flares, essential safety equipment but banned in Bahrain as illegal weapons. On a crisp dawn and in a northerly wind, the yachts made fast time, never out of sight of each other, and shepherded by officials on the race organiser’s boat.
There are seven offshore legs and up to 12 inshore races, the first group of those in Doha on Tuesday. On Wednesday the fleet races to Abu Dhabi, on to Dubai and Ras al Khaimah in the UAE, and then to Dibba, Mussanah and Muscat in Oman.
Latest in Sport
My one and only game for Neil Baldwin FC
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny announce engagement
Jose Mourinho says Chelsea deserve to be setting pace going into Christmas fixtures
Manchester United vs Newcastle United preview: Alan Pardew targets rare Old Trafford win to halt Newcastle slump
Arsenal vs QPR: Leroy Fer seeks perfect present for Boxing Day
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public can visit police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader