Posted on February 08, 2017

Some of the world’s most highly regarded international sailing teams are set to grace the waters of the Arabian Gulf as they compete in the latest edition of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, which will take place from 14 February – 1 March. Featuring veteran and debutant crews alike SATT 2017 welcomes returning teams, Swiss team Bienne Voile, the Farr 20 named after the crew’s hometown in Switzerland, and newcomers Italian crew Team Andelasia di Torres.

Welcoming both amateur and professional teams the gruelling sailing challenge sees crews navigate more than 700 nautical miles of the Arabian Gulf in 15 days of offshore racing with a brand new route redesigned to visit six of the region’s most prestigious sailing venues – including Khasab, Sohar and The Wave, Muscat. The two-week exhilarating race challenge will see some of the most difficult routes yet with the longest offshore leg reaching Doha shores on 24 February before a thrilling in-port race at The Pearl on 25 February. The finale leg culminating the exciting race will leave Qatar for UAE shores on 26 February.

Bienne Voile return to the Middle East in 2017 for their third attempt on the EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour title, hoping that the knowledge built up from negotiating 1,500 miles of tricky currents and almost 20 in port races might this time work to trump the opposition. An amateur team of talented recreational sailors put together by skipper Lorenz Mueller, Bienne Voile will once again feature a wide age range from teenager to sexagenarian and an even wider range of professions including a physicist, architect and physiotherapist. 

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New to the 2017 line-up is Italian crew Adelasia di Torres, who hopes to bring fresh eyes into the mix. The team has been put together by Costa-based Renato Azara, a keen sailor who after many years as managing director of Sardinia Yacht Services, the world-renowned yacht management agency on the Emerald Coast, has decided to go racing. "It gives us great pleasure to welcome Adelasia di Torres to EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour," said Oman Sail’s Chief Marketing Officer, Salma Al Hashmi. "Each year, our fleet represents a diverse mix of amateur and professional crews, repeat competitors and brand new teams looking for fresh challenges and we are confident that all of them will enjoy the opportunities presented to them by our new route this edition, both on and off the water."

For the Bienne Voile crew, experience levels too will vary but they boast 15 Tour de France a la Voile and a few Fastnet Race caps between them and one crewmember Tobias Etter competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 in the 470 class. That said, their expertise is rooted mainly in dinghy racing since most of their sailing in Bienne takes place on a lake at Neuchatel. “We have some very good dinghy sailors on board and they will be at home with the in-port races but the longer offshore legs are probably better suited to the French who have much more experience of long distance sailing,” said Mueller, who steered Bienne Voile to 7th place last year with their two best results posted in the legs from Sohar to Muscat and from Abu Dhabi to Doha where they finished fourth.

“There are many things we like about this race - especially that it is one design with all the sails provided so all the equipment is the same and success comes down to sailing skills and tactical calls. Also, there are no other events that combine offshore and inshore challenges and that is something we are always looking for because you get to do a bit of everything. It makes it a very attractive event.”

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For his part, Azara has put together a star-studded team with aims to hit podium in their first edition. The team will be joined by Duccio Colombi, founder and owner of Phi!Number and winner of 11 Italian Championships in different sailing categories, two European Championships and four World Championships, all with non-professional crews.  Caterina Nitto will also be on hand bringing 20 years of experience as a long-distance sailor, sailing instructor and captain of ships, sailboats and motorboats to bear on the exciting Team Adelasia di Torres campaign.

Azara commented on the crew’s ambitions, “Along with Caterina Nitto and Duccio Colombi, we hope to do well at our first EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour, although we know that there are some very strong teams racing and we have yet to learn the boat - we are looking forward to it!” In addition to the tense competition, Bienne Voile is also keen to return to the Gulf. “It is a wonderful place – the Oman coast especially is beautiful. Going into the Straits of Hormuz is one of the biggest appeals of the race. The wind is changing all the time and there is a lot of current, which means there are important choices to make and we like that. We are looking forward to the challenge and will be aiming to go one better than last year,” said Mueller.  

The 2017 EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour is the seventh edition of the race, which combines long offshore legs with high action in-port racing at venues along the 763nm course.

Oman Sail first launched the race in 2011 and since then, it has grown into the jewel in the crown of Middle East sailing, as the Gulf region’s only offshore event and the world’s only annual race of its type that combines a mix of long offshore legs and intense in-port racing. For more information, visit http://sailingarabiathetour.com. For more information on the 2017 edition of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, please go to: http://sailingarabiathetour.com  

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