French sailing star Thierry Douillard led his EFG Bank Monaco team to their fourth consecutive EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour title as the Arabian classic came to a thrilling climax.
Douillard’s men sealed their victory in style by winning the final race of the event, a sprint around a short course that rounded off the Dubai in-port series.
EFG Bank Monaco began the two-week long, five-leg race around the Arabian Gulf as the hot favourites having won the past three editions.
The reigning champions dominated the podium throughout the tour, winning four of the five offshore stages and one in-port race series.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing, Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA), the 2016 runners-up, threatened to usurp EFG Bank Monaco and when they crossed the finish line of the fifth and final leg from Doha to Dubai in first place it looked like a photo-finish was on the cards.
“It’s a great feeling to win the regatta,” said Douillard, who led the team in place of injured long term skipper Sidney Gavignet. “We really deserved it – we’ve worked so hard over these last two weeks.
“We had a major contest with Team Al Mouj Muscat the entire event and it was just the tiny details that made the difference.
“We were fast upwind and downwind and in the end we had good control over the fleet. This was one of the best editions of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour for sure – we had wonderful conditions, brilliant legs around the Musandam Peninsula, and a great battle with Team Al Mouj Muscat. I think Sidney will be happy – for us it’s a case of ‘a job well done’.”
A third-place finish in the Dubai in-port series wasn’t enough to elevate Team Zain (KUW) to the podium and they ended the regatta in fourth ahead of event newcomers Adelasia di Torres from Italy.
Last year’s third-place finishers Team Averda (GBR) had to settle for sixth, with Bienne Voile (SUI) in seventh and all-female crewed DB Schenker (GER) in eighth. A special prize-giving ceremony celebrating the achievements of the sailors and the success of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour will be held this evening. The awards was presented by Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation, and His Excellency Dr Khalid bin Said Al Jaradi, Oman’s Ambassador to the UAE.
Dubai in-port race series:
- Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu) – 1 point
- EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard) – 1.25 points
- Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny) – 1.5 points
- Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni) – 2.25 points
- DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes) – 2.5 points
- Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara) – 2.5 points
- Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker) – 3 points
- Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – DNS – 4.5 points
- EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard) – 11.25 points
- Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni) – 28 points
- Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu) – 31 points
- Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny) – 33.5 points
- Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara) – 43.25 points
- Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker) – 49.75 points
- Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – 60 points
- DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes) – 62.75 points