MUSCAT: The Gulf region’s premier offshore yacht race is to benefit from a high-speed refresh for the 2018 event, organisers Oman Sail have announced.
EFG Sailing Arabia — The Tour will take a highly competitive international fleet on a totally new route along Oman’s striking and beautiful coastline.
At the same time the modern and exciting high-performance Diam 24 multihull will become the official one-design class for the event.
The eighth running of EFG Sailing Arabia — The Tour will again see a mix of tactical offshore routes and high-intensity in-port racing, with the addition of challenging ‘coastal raids’. The 2018 EFG Sailing Arabia — The Tour will begin at Salalah on Sunday 4 February and conclude in Muttrah, near the Omani capital Muscat, on Saturday 17 February.
“In just seven years EFG Sailing Arabia — The Tour has become the region’s leading offshore race and a popular winter destination for sailors from around the world,” said David Graham, Oman Sail’s CEO.
“The new-look EFG Sailing Arabia — The Tour will again provide great racing in idyllic conditions, and will also highlight Oman as a world-class destination thanks to a race course that will take the event to outstanding areas of natural beauty located along a glorious coastline.
“It is part of Oman Sail’s purpose to showcase and highlight the Sultanate for what it is, a perfect sports tourism location that is also home to many cultural attractions and natural wonders.
“2018 will mark a new milestone on this journey, introducing an exciting new course and a dynamic and modern multihull racing yacht which will appeal to local, regional and international sailors, and provide an attractive and highly visible sponsorship platform.”
The pacesetting changes have been fully embraced by the event’s main and long-term sponsor EFG Private Bank. CEO George Catsiapis said: “Like EFG, Sailing Arabia — The Tour has an ethos that is adventurous, dynamic and forward thinking.
“The imaginative and progressive changes for 2018 fully reflect our shared ambitions and will open the event to an even wider range of sailors who can enjoy the high-speed racing as well as the natural beauty along the course.”
Over 14 days EFG Sailing Arabia — The Tour will feature eight venues, three offshore legs, three coastal raids, and four in-port races, with the Diam 24 race yachts disassembled and transported between venues on some occasions.
In addition to delivering exciting and challenging racing, the all-new race course will take the fleet to some of the coastal gems of Oman including Duqm, Barr Al Hikman, Masirah, Ras Al Hadd, Sur and Bandar Al Khiran.
The Diam 24 selected for the revitalised 2018 edition of the event is a 24-foot high-performance trimaran designed as an easily launched, easily sailed, and super-fast sports boat for a crew of three or four.
It was purpose-built for both the professional circuit and recreational use, and designed by multihull specialists VPLP. First launched in 2014, the Diam 24 fleet is now around 60-strong with numerous events, mainly in the Mediterranean but also in the UK, US and West Indies. In 2015, it was chosen by organisers of the Tour de France a la Voile as a replacement to the existing monohull yacht and was an instant hit with both the sailors and spectators.