MUSCAT: The 2020 EFG Sailing Arabia – the Tour has officially opened in Salalah in tribute to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, God rest his soul. Over 15 days between January 26 and February 8, a strong international and local contingent will use the prime winter conditions in the Sultanate to push both speed and heart rates to the max in thrilling close quarter racing in five diverse locations along the coast of Oman.
Oman Sail CEO David Graham said: “My Omani colleagues and race stakeholders suggested that the 2020 EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is held in tribute to the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. It is a wonderful idea as it was his vision, guidance, and support that enabled Oman Sail to blossom into an iconic global brand.”
Renowned French Sailor Pierre Mas, whose experience includes the America’s Cup, Ocean Race, and Solitaire du Figaro, is returning as Manager of team Groupe Atlantic after winning with team Beijaflore in 2018 and 2019. He said: “EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is an important part of the international sailing calendar. It’s the start of our training for Tour de France a la voile and it’s always a pleasure to experience the beauty of Oman as we compete across the country.”
Since it started in 2011, EFG Sailing Arabia — The Tour has attracted some of the biggest names in sailing to experience the prime sailing conditions and beauty of the region. The tenth edition will see a strong international and Omani contingent in showcase of speed and skill over 15 days between January 26 and February 8 in five diverse locations along the coast of Oman.
Eight teams, made up of sailors from Oman, France, Switzerland, and Spain will race on board the matched fleet of DIAM24, the same boats used in the Tour de France a la voile.
EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour Race Director Gilles Chiorri said: “The winter conditions in Oman are perfect for racing – the air and sea are warm and the wind consistent, so we have a great couple of weeks ahead of us, during which the competitors will discover the fascinating Omani coastline and the kindness of the habitants.
“This is the third edition that we will use the DIAM24 and judging by the past three years, people can expect some fast and competitive sailing.”
The 2020 EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, which is organised by Oman Sail, will feature three in-port races, five coastal raids, and one offshore leg. In a route reversal from 2019, the 2020 edition will begin in Salalah, a lush sub-tropical city in Oman’s south. The origins of the Sultanate’s second largest city dates back to 100BC and it has a rich maritime history, being an important port for the frankincense and silk trades.
Following a coastal raid and in-port race along the coastline of Salalah, the teams will make their way up the coast, with stopovers in Duqm, Masirah Island, Sur and Ras Al Hadd, before a two-day title decider in Muscat.
The 2020 EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour officially opened at the award-winning Salalah Airport on Saturday 25 January. Oman Airports said: “We at Oman Airports are extremely proud to be working with an iconic event such as the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour and to be the naming partner for one of the two fully Omani crewed teams.
“The EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is a perfect fit for Oman Airports. As the event showcases the beauty and breadth of Oman, the sailors and organisers will be supported by Oman’s world-class airports in Salalah, Duqm, and Muscat. We wish all the teams and competitors the very best for the next few weeks.”
For the first time in the ten-year history of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, there are two all-female teams, Helvetia Purple and DB Schenker, spearheaded by Omani sailors Ibtisam al Salmi and Marwa al Khaifi. The pair are both highly experienced in racing on board the DIAM 24 and impressed with two race wins in last year’s Tour Voile.
Two teams, Oman Airport and Renaissance, will be comprised solely of Omani sailors, emphasising the talent being developed in the Sultanate.
The full teams and skippers are:
Group Atlantic – Clement Cron (France)
Helvetia Purple – Pauline Courtois (France)
Helvetia Blue – Pierrick Letouze (France)
Team Royan Atlantique – Thimothé Polet and Gautier Tallieu (France) [co-skippers]
Oman Airport – Hussein al Jabri (Oman)
EFG – Sofian Bouvet (France)
Renaissance – Akram Al Wahaibi (Oman)
DB Schenker – Audrey Ogereau (France)