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Sailing Arabia: tour announced for 2014

EFG Bank - Sailing Arabia The Tour 2013. .In-Port racing and prize giving. Abu Dhabi. UAE..(Credit Lloyd Images)

EFG Bank - Sailing Arabia The Tour 2013. .In-Port racing and prize giving. Abu Dhabi. UAE..(Credit Lloyd Images)

The fourth edition of the prestigious EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, the Gulf region’s only annual long distance offshore sailing event has been announced today by organizers Oman Sail with the elite teams scheduled to make three stops in UAE waters.

Following the most successful edition in the tour’s history in 2013, this year’s race returns with EFG International, the leading global private banking group as title sponsor and dates of exhilarating 15 day, 760 nautical mile Gulf coast challenge confirmed for 9th to 24th February 2014.

Once again the tour will be contested in identical Farr 30 one-design keelboats, calling in at eight stopover world class marinas in four nations, from Bahrain to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates with the finish in Oman’s beautiful capital city, Muscat.

Local sailing enthusiasts will be able to catch the world-class action in Oman with a stopover in Dibba on 20th February, followed by Mussanah Marina to reach Al Mouj Marina in Muscat on 24th February for the closing ceremony.

Originally inspired in 2011 as a Middle Eastern version of the Tour de France à la Voile, the 3rd edition of the EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour provided a stunning showcase of the region as a unique sailing destination that offers some of the best international crews and Arab sailors the chance to compete over two intense weeks.

All indications are that the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour will build on the huge successes of 2013 with over 10 elite GCC and international teams expected to enter the event which has rapidly become one of the most popular “warm” winter fixtures of the global sailing calendar and an alluring showcase of everything the Gulf has to offer in terms of state-of-the-art facilities and idyllic sailing conditions.

Last year Team AISM, skippered by Bertrand Pacé, eight time winner of the Tour de France à la Voile and helm of two America’s Cup challenges,were crowned 2013 champions.

The 2013 edition hosted top echelon international skippers who rated the regatta among the best in the world. They included Olympian and winning Volvo Ocean Race skipper Sidney Gavignet who was at the helm of the sponsor’s campaign entry EFG Bank (Monaco); British yachtswoman Dee Caffari, the first woman to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions as skipper of the all women entry Al-Thuyara Bank Muscat; Omani Mohsin Al Busaidi, the first Arab to sail non-stop around the world and rising star and skipper of Team Abu Dhabi, Adil Khaled, who competed in the 2008 Olympic Games, the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean race.

Keith Gapp, Head of Strategy and Marketing at EFG International, said that no persuasion was needed following last year’s highly successful debut sponsorship.

“EFG sponsors a number of high profile sporting events worldwide with sailing one of our focal points; and this event is unique among them. We fully endorse Oman Sail’s commitment to youth mentoring, training and the significant strides being made to reignite the rich maritime heritage of the Gulf region.”

Welcoming the announcement of the fourth edition David Graham, Oman Sail CEO said; “It’s hugely exciting to look forward to the fourth edition of the race and to confirm the dates. Each and every year the tour has set a new standard for the region and I expect the same of the 2014 race. Oman Sail has worked hard to bring nations together through sailing and create a sporting property that attracts global interest for potential competitors and sponsors.

“The continued commitment of a global sponsor like EFG International confirmed the premier status of the Tour. It provides a solid base for the staging of a bigger, better and even more exciting event with a high calibre entry of the sport’s best regional and international teams supported by the world’s most prestigious brands.”

David Graham, said key to the success of provided a stage for the Gulf nations to showcase their countries and unique tourism potential.

“In just three years the event has established the Middle East as an exceptional international yacht racing destination with unbeatable sailing conditions, local talent grown from centuries of sailing heritage and the chance to experience a fascinating mix of ancient traditions and modern sophistication.”

HH Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed bin Saqr Al Nahyan, Chairman UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation said EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour had become an eagerly awaited annual event in the region and a great platform to reflect the amazing talent and skills of local sailors.

“This healthy competition not only inspires a new generation of young sailors but also puts us on the international sporting map. It gives us and our international competitors a rare tour of some of great nations and first class in port facilities. We look forward to another exceptional event in February.”

For more information on the race, go here.

By Daphne Morgan Barnicoat, Oman Sail

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