Manama: Nine world-class crews competing in the EFG Bank Sailing Arabia–The Tour were back on the water yesterday off the coast of Qatar for the first of threein-port races to take place during the 15-day race between Bahrain and Muscat.
In contrast to the calm of the opening days, Day 3 of the third edition of the region's only long distance sailing race was fast and fanatic as fiercely competitive in-port races saw Dubai-based Team AISM, steal the honours winning all three races in front of a large crowd enjoying Qatar's National Sport Day. Bertrand Pacé and his Dubai-based Team AISM dominated the first day of in-port racing. Pacé is returning to compete in the Gulf's longest sailboat race for a third time, hoping to repeat first place success of 2011. "I like the mixture of inshore and offshore – it is good for us," said the former America's Cup helmsman. "This time of year we don't have that much sailing we can do (in Europe) so this is good practice for us. It is a perfect two weeks."
Winner of the opening leg from Bahrain to Doha, the Cédric Pouligny-skippered BAE Systems, scored a 4-2-4 today in the three races leaving her just ahead of EFG Bank Monaco and Team AISM in the overall standings.
For Dee Caffari and her all-female crew on Al Thuraya Bank Muscat it was a difficult day and they struggled with their manoeuvring. "This really was a practice day for us," said Caffari. "I have to say we are happy with our boat speed. In Bahrain when we were together as a team for the first time there was no wind. It is only our manoeuvres that let us down, but at least now we have something to work on. Having seen how we were against the other boats at each mark we know that there are a few boats there for the pickings."
After the short course series, the nine crews will be setting their sights on the longest leg of the 15-day tour, covering 160 nautical miles between Doha and Abu Dhabi, the first stopover in UAE.