All to play for as Oman Sail teams reach mid-point of Tour Voile

MUSCAT: Oman Sail’s teams are heading to the half-way point of the gruelling Tour Voile round-France event with all to play for and their target of a podium place finish still in their sights. The third Act in Jullouville saw a mixed bag of results for the two leading race teams, while the two development squads — consisting of all-Omani and all-women crews — continued to gain experience of the unique Tour Voile and improve their racing skills. The Renaissance Services crew of skipper Stevie Morrison, Quentin Ponroy and Abdul-Rahman al Mashari arrived in Jullouville fresh from their second overall day victory of the Tour, and delivered a strong performance with a fourth place on Wednesday’s coastal race.
Meanwhile, the EFG Private Bank Monaco team – skipper Pierre Pennec with Corentin Horeau and Hussein Al Jabri – did even better with second place, their best result of the Tour to date and confirmation that the recently formed crew is starting to hit its stride. However success was tempered by mid-fleet finishes in Thursday’s series of five inshore ‘stadium’ races, with both Oman Sail race teams just missing out on a place in the day’s final on the spectacular Bay of Mont Saint Michel.
After seven days of intense racing the teams made the most of Friday’s lay-day, the first break in the demanding Tour schedule, though they still had to make the 340km road trip from Jullouville to the next venue at Les Sables d’Olonne and then reassemble their high-speed Diam 24 trimarans.
EFG Private Bank Monaco skipper Pennec said the teams are enjoying the on-going challenge: “The Tour has been very intensive, starting back in Dunkerque with three days of inshore racing, and we have now done seven days without any break – but that is why we are here, because it is difficult.
“The most important thing for me and team is to progress and we are working all the time to see what we can do better and how we should do it. We are tired but we are very focused.”
EFG Private Bank Monaco is seventh in the 23-strong fleet, with Renaissance Services a point ahead in fifth as they reach the mid-point of the 17-day marathon. The all-women team on EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour — skipper Audrey Ogereau, Maelenn Lemaitre, Ibtisam al Salmi, Marwa al Kaifi and Tamadher al Balushi — have shown real pace in a competitive mid-fleet battle and are 18th. Also improving — and with a race win to their credit — are the all-Omani Team Oman Sail crew of Akram al Wahaibi, Haitham al Wahaibi, Raad al Hadi and Yasser al Rahbi, who are 22nd.
All four teams are out to make their mark on the classic Tour Voile as Oman Sail celebrates its 10th anniversary.
They return to action on Saturday in Les Sables d’Olonne with a coastal race, followed by a series of short, sharp stadium races on Sunday. The teams then face a long 770km trip to Port Barcarès on France’s Mediterranean coast, the fifth of seven venues on the Tour.