Thierry Douillard’s men sealed their victory by winning the final race of the event in the rules of the art, a sprint around a short course to conclude the series of in-port regattas in Dubai.
EFG Bank Monaco started the race around the Arabian Gulf, which lasted two weeks and consisted of five stages, as favorites, having already won the three previous editions.
The reigning champions dominated the podium throughout the Tour, winning four of five ocean racing stages and a series of in-port races.
But everything was not so simple, since Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA), vice-champions in 2016, posed a severe threat to EFG Bank Monaco, as soon as they crossed the finish line of the fifth and final stage between Doha and Dubai in the lead. Everything was going to be played out in a last with a “photo finish” flavor.
But Team Al Mouj Muscat’s hopes of overthrowing their rivals were dashed when the international jury ruled on the fact that they had sailed in an exclusion zone during the 5 th stage, causing their disqualification.
EFG Bank Monaco, therefore, started the Dubai in-port race series with an unassailable lead, before losing out by finishing this last in-port series in second place behind Team Al Mouj Muscat.
It was an exhilarating end to an epic race that saw the eight international teams from seven different countries cover 763 nautical miles from Muscat to Sohar, then bypass the Musandam Peninsula to Khasab in Oman, and back on to Abu Dhabi in the Arab Emirates. United. The fleet then began two stages across the Arabian Gulf en route to Doha, Qatar, and finally back to Dubai, showcasing the world-class sailing that the region has to offer.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to win the regatta,” said Thierry Douillard, who led the team in place of the usual skipper, Sidney Gavignet, who was injured. “We really deserved it; we worked so hard the last two weeks!
“We had a real duel with Team Al Mouj Muscat throughout the event, and it’s just the little details that made the difference. We were fast upwind and downwind, so we had reasonable control of the fleet.
“It was one of the best editions of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour for sure, we had wonderful conditions, wonderful stages around the Musandam Peninsula, and a great battle against Team Al Mouj Muscat. I think Sidney will be happy for us, we can say that it is “mission accomplished.” ”
EFG Bank Monaco will now have its name engraved on the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour trophy for the fourth time.
The disqualification of Team Al Mouj Muscat during the 5 th stage relegated them to third place in the general classification, behind the winners of the first stage, Team Renaissance (OMA), led by the protégé of Sidney Gavignet and sailing star Omani, Fahad Al Hasni. They sailed with a crew of 90% Omani.
Second place saw Fahad Al Hasni’s crew make up for their 2016 standings when they finished one point off the podium.
“I am so proud of my team and what we have accomplished,” said Fahad Al Hasni. “Our goal this year was to finish on the podium. We did, and finishing in second is even better. Everyone is very excited and happy, and tonight we are going to celebrate this result! ”
Team Al Mouj Muscat skipper Christian Ponthieu said his team could keep their heads held high, although they eventually gave up first place to EFG Bank Monaco.
“We had a good regatta, and we were really consistent during these two weeks, always in the top three,” he explained. “EFG Bank Monaco was excellent and it was difficult to beat them. ”
A third place in the Dubai in-port race series was not enough for Team Zain (KUW) to reach the podium, and they finished the regatta in the fourth position, ahead of newcomers, Adelasia di Torres, a team from Italy.
Team Averda (GBR), which finished in third place last year, had to settle for sixth place, with Bienne Voile (SUI) in seventh and the all-female team of DB Schenker (GER) in eighth place.