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On Saturday 28th January at an official press conference, Oman Sail revealed the much anticipated final details of the 2012 edition of Sailing Arabia – the Tour. Now in its second year, the race is organized by Oman Sail in collaboration with a number of authorities from the Gulf region, with the concept of bringing Gulf States together in a race around the Arabian Peninsula.
The conference was attended by Issa Al Ismaili, Director of Events at Oman Sail, Khalid Al Zidjali, Director of Tourism Event at Ministry of Tourism who were joined by Omani ailing sensations Ahmed Al Mamari and Mohsin Al Busaidi who are have been among the selected skipper for the Tour.
A total of nine teams will take part, compared to six in the events inaugural year, including four Omani, four from the region and one team from as far afield as France. Racing will take place on the same one-design boats (Farr30 class) as the Tour de France à la Voile, the event on which SATT is based, providing a true test of the sailor’s skills. Over the five legs, the sailors will not only have to race offshore overnight, but they will also have to do short, fast races in stopover venues close to shore for the public to watch.
The teams will set off from Manama in Bahrain on the 12th February, for the start of two weeks of sailing. From Bahrain, the teams will sail the 241kms to Porto Arabia marina at The Pearl-Qatar in Doha before undertaking the longest leg of the Tour to Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club. From Abu Dhabi the teams will traverse the coast of the UAE to Ras Al Khaimah, before racing towards the first Omani port at Zighy Bay, Six-Senses near Khasab. The teams will make their way south to Mussanah, before the final short 84kms sprint to The Wave, Muscat. By the time the teams reach the final port, they will have sailed an incredible 1,064 kilometers, over 14 days.
The Sultanate will be well represented, with four Omani teams preparing to go head to head when racing starts. BAE Systems, the team that represented the Sultanate in the 2011 Tour de France à la Voile, will make their debut in SATT this year. Frenchman Cedric Pouligny who led the team to a fifth place finish during the TDV, will lead an all Omani crewed team in SATT and the team will be looking to emulate their international successes on regional waters.
The second boat hailing from the Sultanate is Renaissance Services, and Ahmed Al Mamari is the man charged with leading the team. Ahmed is no stranger to offshore sailing, as one of the only Arabs to have sailed around the world on completion of the 2010 Clipper Race. Ahmed competed onboard Renaissance Services in the 2011 edition of SATT under the guidance of Captain Salah Al Jabri finishing an impressive second and as first Arab team.
The Ministry of Tourism will enter a boat into SATT for the first time, Muscat 2012, and one of Oman’s most accomplished offshore sailors, Mohsin Al Busaidi, has been confirmed as Skipper. Mohsin made history when he became the first Arab to sail around the world non-stop and will bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the team. The entry of Team Muscat 2012, which is 100% Omani, is inline with the Ministry’s campaign to promote Muscat as the Arab Capital of Tourism 2012, and will serve to further enhance our capital cities presence on an regional platform.
The Ministry of Tourism of Oman is sponsoring Muscat 2012 crewed by an all Oman crew under Mohsin Al Balushi, the first Arab to circumnavigate the world non-stop.
Her Excellency, Maitha Al Mahrouqi, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism said “our yacht is a great platform to promote Muscat as Arabia’s Tourism Capital 2012, as awarded by the Arab League’s Tourism Ministers. Our yacht showcases the Muscat 2012 brand while our Omani skipper and crew are great brand ambassadors. It is a winning combination. We wish them every success.”
The Ministry’s Muscat 2012 campaign includes international stopover promotions with Oman Air and an expanded international events program.
Her Excellency said “2012 is a big year for tourism to Muscat and Oman, and we will use the start of every leg of the SATT event as an opportunity to brief the local GCC travel and tourism trade. It’s a unique and exciting way to introduce a brand and our campaigns” she continued.
“Sailing Arabia – The Tour, is a great opportunity to promote sailing in the region. The route has been well planned and there are some very interesting teams entered so I am sure we will have some very close racing. I feel very proud to be sailing on the Ministry of Tourism boat, SATT is a perfect way for them to promote Muscat having already won the Arab Capital of Tourism award.”
The final boat representing Oman, is the unique all women’s team, Al Thuraya BankMuscat, led by British round the world sailor, Dee Caffari. The women’s team, which includes four Omani women, will compete as part of Oman Sail’s women’s programme. Since the programme was launched in October 2011, the women have been under going a rigorous selection and training programme, which has not only qualified them as professional dinghy instructors, but has seen the women become Oman’s first professional female sailors.
In addition to the Omani teams, four teams from the Gulf have confirmed their entry with a host of international talent lined up as crew. Team Commercialbank Group, will represent Qatar, with Frenchman Bertand Pace leading the team. Team Bahrain, led by Qasim Abdul Razaq will represent Bahrain. Up and coming British sailing talent Robin Elsy will lead Team Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in their debut year, while fellow Brit John Curran will Skipper Team Ras Al Khaima.
Courrier Dunkerque is the only team not representing an Arab nation, sailing under the French flag, with Daniel Souben as Skipper. Undoubtedly one of Frances most experienced sailors, Daniel and the Courrier Dunkerque team won both the 2008 and 2009 editions of the Tour de France à la Voile, as well as the Farr 30 World Championships in 2010, showing the depth of talent within the SATT fleet. Daniel explained what is so appealing about SATT. “Its and opportunity for our crew to discover new horizons and to launch into some fresh sailing challenges prior to getting their teeth into the French Crewed Championship and the Tour de France.”
Issa Al Ismaili, Director of Events at Oman Sail explained: “Oman is becoming know not just regionally, but internationally, as a destination for sailing. SATT provides a winter alternative to the European offshore events, and the timing is perfect as a prelude to the European sailing season.”
“This is just the second edition of SATT and the event is already talked about by the international sailing community. In 2013 we aim to attract event more international teams to ensure the continued growth and success of the event. It is also a prefect platform for us to promote sailing – one of the fastest growing sports in the region.”
To follow the Omani teams progress during SATT please visit the official event website www.sailingarabiathetour.com
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