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Sailors prepare for the tour.
EFG Sailing Arabia preps for showdown Event runs from Feb 9 to 24

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 6: With just three days to go before the start of EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour 2014, the excitement around the start location of Amwaj Marina in Bahrain is beginning to build. This event, which runs from Feb 9-24, is now in its fourth year and offers 15 days of intense sailing to test the skills of not only the region’s best sailing talent, but also a selection of elite world class sailors. The 760 nautical mile course spans over four countries from Bahrain to Oman, with eight of the region’s premier marinas playing host as stopover venues during the seven legs of the course. A total of six teams representing four countries - Oman, EU, Monaco and The Netherlands - have confirmed their entry, with many using the final few days before the start to fine-tune and prepare for the challenge.

Sidney Gavignet, skipper of EFG Bank (Monaco) - Olympian and winning Volvo Ocean Race skipper - who took part in last year’s event, said the aim is to win, so preparation is important: “We have a lot to do including installing the navigation computer and GPS. Training is particularly important for us because we’ve not sailed together before.” The busy Amwaj Marina where the fleet of identical Farr 30s are based for the start is fast becoming a hot spot, and a showcase for spectators gathering not only to witness the elite sailors preparing for Sunday’s start, but also to offer their support to the region’s competitors who have embraced EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour with its commitment to inspire a new generation of sailors.

American Katie Pettibone, skipper of Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat’s all women’s team, is no stranger to serious racing. As a member of three America’s Cup teams, two round the world race crews and two Sailing Arabia — The Tour teams, she hopes to improve the team’s knowledge and provide them with the skills they need for a future Omani women’s entry. Pettibone commented: “Part of growing as a team and improving skills is evaluating performance honestly, making plans of action for improvement, and then carrying out the action plans. “Our final boat preparation includes making sure the boat is ready for offshore racing, and putting in as much practice as possible.

“Crew morale is good. Everyone is excited to get the adventure underway and start sailing. It’s a magnificent region to sail in and I enjoy it very much, which I is why I keep coming back.” Taking it seriously is what EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour is all about, and a good result is highly regarded particularly with the event’s growing reputation and pedigree as a world-class regatta. Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team skipper, Marcel Herrera has high ambitions. “We are very confident of a podium position. With a strong crew and months of preparation we are focused on finishing in the top three. “The final few days to the start will be spent practising our roles, testing boat speed and running crew rotation drills to ensure everything runs smoothly. The team is busy focusing on fitness and healthy eating to make sure we are in the best form possible.”

Chatting about their closest rivals, Herrera continued: “EFG Bank (Monaco) and Team Delft Challenge present the biggest challenge to us.” Kay Heemskerk from Team Delft Challenge- TU Delft said he and his young team have focused on intense training but they have a different outlook. “For us, the process of getting to Muscat will be as important as the result. We have trained hard as a team both on and off the water so not surprisingly morale is very good. “Last weekend we did a training session in Holland in 5 degrees Celsius, so we are looking forward to the warm climate of the Gulf.”

Oman Royal Navy skipper AbdulAziz Al Hussaini, who has an eight-strong team of Omanis onboard, says the there is plenty to challenge but that makes it even more interesting particularly to those who have not sailed in the Gulf before: “The climate of Middle East is quite unique because it is the warmest area in the world but lacks weather stations and observations reports. Local knowledge therefore is an advantage. Thankfully, some of the sailors in my team are from a fishery background, and they are experts of the local weather, current, and tidal streams.” “We will try not to make any mistakes. We have the advantage of knowing these waters very well, so it is not impossible to win.” Team Renaissance skipper Al Busaidi said that crew morale with just three days to go before the start is great: “My crew is always excited when it comes to competitions. Knowing that there are some great times ahead and good experiences to be gained, my team is so proud of being in the race.”

For more information on the race please visit: www.sailingarabiathetour.com

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