Oman Sail teams shine at Tour Voile as finale looms

MUSCAT: Oman Sail teams stormed to a 1-2 finish in the Tour Voile on Wednesday, taking the top two stadium racing places in their best combined performance to date.
EFG Private Bank Monaco recorded their first day win on the Tour with victory in the Port Barcares final, and were chased home by their teammates on Renaissance Services. As importantly the excellent result — combined with a strong fourth and sixth place respectively on Tuesday’s coastal race at the Mediterranean venue — allowed the Oman Sail teams to close the gap to the Tour Voile leaders as the marathon event enters its final intensive stages.
“The victory was very good news for the team because we have been getting better all the time with our manoeuvres, and I am very happy for Renaissance as well as we took to the two top places,” said EFG Private Bank Monaco’s delighted skipper Pierre Pennec celebrating with crew Corentin Horeau and Hussein al Jabri.
Pennec added: “I am very happy for Hussein as well as this is his first Tour and he has improved very quickly — his is a strong guy and it is unbelievable how well he is sailing now.”
Wednesday’s top-two lockout now means that the EFG and Renaissance crews have won four of the 11 race days so far between them, with Renaissance the only Tour Voile team to have three victories on their tally.
The results put Renaissance Services in fifth place on the Tour Voile leaderboard with EFG Private Bank Monaco just behind in sixth. Crucially it also closes the points gap to the teams above and Oman Sail’s pre-event target of a podium finish. Meanwhile Renaissance Services’ second place in the Port Barcares final was all the more remarkable as they were penalised for a false start in the first of only three qualifying races.
Skipper Stevie Morrison said: “I’m not sure we expected to get to the final as we were hoping for more qualifying races, but there weren’t any more as the wind was very shifty and we pushed our luck to make the final — but once you are in the final everything starts from zero with one race for all the prizes.
“So you very quickly forget that you were maybe a bit lucky to get there and you say ‘we’re here and let’s go for it’.”
British Olympic sailor Morrison praised the “great job” of his crew Abdul-Rahman al Mashari and Quentin Ponroy: “We don’t have a magic trick — the guys are very good at keeping calm and we don’t change what we do, and I think some of the other guys are making mistakes.
“Doing the Olympics helps because you are used to these situations where races are important, but I think to be honest it’s Abdul and Quentin and our shore team who make sure the boat is in perfect condition and working well.” At the same time Oman Sail’s two development squads are continuing to gain experience and develop their skills.