The second edition of Sailing Arabia - The Tour (SATT) - the only yacht race around the GCC region will start on February 12 at Amwaj Marina in Bahrain with nine teams from seven different backgrounds participating and sailing for a total of 15 days.
During the event, organised by Oman Sail in collaboration with a number of federations and authorities from the Gulf region, the sailing team will traverse the peninsula visiting seven marinas on the way - Doha, Abu Dhabi, Ras al-Khaimah, Musandam and Mussanah, before finishing in Oman.
By the time the teams reach the final port, they will have sailed an incredible 1,408km.
The race, which showcases a number of state-of-the-art marinas across the region and their unique ability in hosting world-class sailing events, brings the GCC countries together through their maritime history, with the sport of sailing and the related infrastructure being increasingly developed across the states.
Over the five legs, the sailors will not only have to race offshore overnight, but they will also have short, fast races in stopover venues close to shore for the public to watch and where some lucky locals will take part.
Representing Qatar in the event is the Team Commercialbank sponsored by the bank.
Qatar’s entry will be led by Frenchman Bertrand Pace, who has won consecutive victories in Le Tour de France à la Voile, leading the French team to victory in the 2011 edition of SATT and in 2012 he returns to lead the team from Qatar.
He is currently sports director for Aleph - a French sailing team competing in the America’s Cup World Series.
For the first time there will also be a unique all-women’s team taking part, Al ThurayaBankMuscat, led by British round-the-world sailor, Dee Caffari.
The team, which includes four Omani women, will compete as part of Oman Sail women’s programme, which was launched in October 2011.
The women have been undergoing a rigorous selection and training programme, which has not only qualified them as professional dinghy instructors, but has seen them become Oman’s first professional female sailors.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Qatar Sailing and Rowing Federation president Khalifa Mohamed al-Suwaidi thanked the Oman Sail for organising the event saying that it revived the rich maritime heritage associated with the region in the modern side of sailing.
“We are delighted to have a Qatari team competing in the tour and see Doha host the event for the second time. Hosting the in-port races in Doha on February 14 comes in celebration with Qatar’s National Sports Day and this will provide a great opportunity for the crowd to support their team and enjoy the race from a close distance,” he said while also thanking Qatar Olympic Committee chairman Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for his support of sailing and water sports in Qatar.
According to Oman Sail’s Events director Issa Ismaili, the marine tourism industry and the sport of sailing were growing rapidly in the GCC.
“SATT provides a winter alternative to the European offshore event and the timing is perfect as a prelude to the European sailing season. Each leg will present different challenges to the sailors and many of the international sailors will be using SATT as a training ground,” he explained.
He said the event has grown since its first year and in 2013 the aim is to attract even more teams, both from the international sailing fraternity and from the region.
“The additional teams from the region are essential to the continued success of the event. SATT is a prefect platform for us to promote sailing - one of the fastest growing sports in the region,” he added.
The Pearl-Qatar Community Relations manager Abdulhameed al-Yousef said: “We always support activities related to sports - in line with the vision of HH the Emir - and we are honoured and excited to welcome SATT to The Pearl-Qatar for the second year in a row.”
Ronautica Middle East general manager Jaume Marco said: “The Pearl-Qatar is not only a stopover for super yachts, but also acts as a popular destination for water-sports enthusiasts and we are very pleased to be hosting The Pearl-Qatar Cup during the in-port races in Doha. We wish the teams all the best and we look forward to hosting a great event.”
The team members announced to-date include Bertrand Pace, skipper and his crew of Vincent Portgual, Gildas Morvan, Julien Falxa, Cedric Chateu and Clement Salzes.
Team Commercialbank group’s progress can be followed during SATT at www.sailingarabiathetour.com.
More information can be had by contacting Oman Sail Regional PR manager Mohamed al Eissa on +968 9633 0571 or Email: [email protected]
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