Posted on February 21, 2017

Reigning EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour champions EFG Bank Monaco (MON) today 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 (OMA) and Team Zain (KUW) to seal the top spot in the 153-nautical mile sprint from Khasab on Oman's Musandam Peninsula to Abu Dhabi.

With only one leg left before the final showdown in Nakheel West Marina, Dubai, on 1st March, crews rest up before heading out onto the open waters to Doha, Qatar for the penultimate in-port race at The-Pearl-Qatar on 25th February. 

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. First place puts the three-time winners of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, 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.

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“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.”

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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 26th February.

Results of Leg 3:

  1. EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard)  
  2. Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu)
  3. Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny)
  4. Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni)
  5. Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller)
  6. Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara)
  7. Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker)
  8. DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes)

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