EFG Bank Monaco win leg 3

MUSCAT: Reigning EFG Sailing Arabia — The Tour (SATT) champions EFG Bank Monaco on Monday consolidated their overall lead with a victory in the third offshore leg of the race around the Arabian Gulf. The veteran crew saw off spirited attacks from rival crews Team Al Mouj Muscat (Oman) and Team Zain (Kuwait) to seal the top spot in the 153-nautical mile sprint from Khasab on Oman’s Musandam Peninsula to Abu Dhabi.
The triumph, their second in three legs, is all the more impressive given the hurdles EFG Bank Monaco faced on the leg — at one point their Farr 30 racing yacht became entangled in a fishing net, causing them to lose the lead to Team Al Mouj Muscat, but they were able to recover and overhaul their rivals overnight.
933469First place put the three-time winners of SATT, led by Frenchman Thierry Douillard and including Omani sailors Raad al Hadi and Haitham al Wahaibi, 4 points clear at the top of the overall standings with two offshore legs and two in-port race series remaining.
“I am really happy to finish this leg in first place,” said Al Wahaibi, who has risen through the ranks at Oman Sail, a national initiative that uses the power of sport to contribute to the development of the Omani people. It was a really difficult leg — we got stuck in a fishing net for around five minutes and we lost a few places but we were able to free the boat and continue the race. Team Al Mouj Muscat and Team Zain were very fast and pushing us all the time so we’re very happy to have been able to beat them in the end. We will see if we can keep it up in the next leg.”
Team Al Mouj Muscat notched up another second-place finish, coming in just eight minutes adrift of EFG Bank Monaco’s winning time of one day, two hours and 55 minutes. But the biggest celebrations came from Team Zain, who scored their first podium result after having to settle for fourth in the two opening legs.
“We are absolutely delighted with the result,” said Team Zain crew manager Mike Miller. “At one point we were actually leading but as we came into the home strait the professional crews took us to the cleaners. Thankfully we were able to hang on this morning and score our first podium of this year’s race. It was a brilliant leg, really good fun, and we’re all really pleased with how it turned out. It was very hard work but we really deserve this result.”
Behind the top three an intense battle raged for fourth place between Leg 1 winners Team Renaissance (OMA), race newcomers Adelasia di Torres (ITA) and Bienne Voile (SUI). After more than 26 hours at sea the three crews finished within 90 seconds of one another, Team Renaissance coming home just ahead of Bienne Voile and Adelasia di Torres.
Team Averda (GBR) are on course for seventh place ahead of all-woman crew DB Schenker (GER) in eighth, who are expected to finish around 1600 local time. The teams now have a day in the UAE capital city to recover before racing resumes on Wednesday morning with Leg 4, the penultimate stage of the 763nm Arabian classic.
A special prize-giving ceremony for Legs 2 and 3 will be held at Emirates Palace Marina tomorrow evening. Leg 4 will see the crews set out into the Arabian Gulf bound for Doha, Qatar, a 160nm stage that will see them spend yet another night — if not two — at sea.
Once in Doha the teams will contest the second in-port race series of EFG Sailing Arabia — The Tour, a vital opportunity to score points before the final offshore leg to Dubai which begins on February 26.