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EFG Sailing Arabia: Marcel Herrera looking for third time lucky

EFG Bank - Sailing Arabia The Tour 2013. Pictures of Team Messe Frankfurt skippered by Marcel Herrera with team mates Dominic Silman, Sandy Macpherson, Peter Knight, Matthew Haslam, Jack Kilburn, Matthew Rainback. The leg2 race start Qatar - Abu Dhabi. (Credit: Lloyd Images)

EFG Bank - Sailing Arabia The Tour 2013. Pictures of Team Messe Frankfurt skippered by Marcel Herrera with team mates Dominic Silman, Sandy Macpherson, Peter Knight, Matthew Haslam, Jack Kilburn, Matthew Rainback. The leg2 race start Qatar - Abu Dhabi. (Credit: Lloyd Images)

A twenty-one year old German born skipper Marcel Herrera is hoping for a “third time lucky” winning championship in this year’s prestigious EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014 when he hopes to steer his youth Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team to victory in the Gulf coasts only annual long distance offshore event.

Despite his young age, Herrera is considered one of the more experienced “veterans” of Gulf racing having competed in two of the three editions of SATT held so far. He raced with the UAE Team Ras Al Khaimah in the 2011 inaugural event, coached sailing in Dubai and Oman and skippered Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team to 5th place in the 2013 EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour.
“A personal ambition is to finish on the podium no matter the event so I am hoping for a combined team effort that puts us in contention for a top spot. We are putting in hundreds of hours of preparation to make this a winning campaign,” said Herrera who returns with some changes to his predominantly UK crew from the University of Plymouth.

At least 10 elite GCC and international teams are expected for EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014 which takes place from 9 – 24 February. Organised by Oman Sail, the classic 15 day, 760 nautical mile annual Gulf coast challenge is contested in identical Farr 30 one-design keelboats.

Rated as one of the most popular “warm” winter fixtures of the global sailing calendar, it follows a spectacular course down the coast with calls at eight world class marinas in four nations, from Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to finish in Oman’s beautiful capital city, Muscat.

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) and Bertrand Pace, an eight times winner of the Tour de France à la Voile and helmsman of two America’s Cup challenges. As skipper Team AISM he was the 2013 champion of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour.

Herrera said EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour was an excellently run event that offered great hospitality throughout the different Gulf nations making it an extra special experience.

“It is also a very challenging event. In 2013 our team had to adapt to the heat, the professional competition and format so it is very testing as skipper.

“The highlight was finishing on equal points with French sailing legend Bertrand Pace during the Abu Dhabi in port race and only coming second due to the count back method of scoring. EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is full of memorable experiences in terms of challenge and adventure.”

He said their pursuit of a winning result was also to honour their sponsor Messe Frankfurt, one of the world’s biggest exhibitions company which has had a presence in the UAE for 12 years. Messe Frankfurt is expanding into other countries in the region.

Herrera who learnt to sail in Optimist dinghies at the Dubai offshore yacht club has raced successfully in Extreme 40s, A100 Trimarans, RC44s and competed in the foiling Moths world championships but says the Farr 30 is still his choice of boat for any occasion.

“It is one of the reasons why I enjoy SATT so much. It is such an exciting boat to sail and race and I have just completed a full season campaigning Farr 30’s in the UK this year.”

Issa Al Ismaili, Oman Sail Event Director welcomes the entry of such impressive youth teams as he is confident they would return again and again and help grow the event’s recognition as one of the most sought-after warm winter regattas on the international sailing calendar.

“In just three years the event has established the Middle East as an exceptional international yacht racing destination with unbeatable sailing conditions. It has re-ignited our centuries old maritime heritage, promoted sailing as a sport and gives our competitors the chance to enjoy a rare tour of some of great nations and first class in port facilities.

“EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour provides an alluring showcase of everything the Gulf has to offer in terms of state-of-the-art facilities and idyllic sailing conditions. It is more than just a sailing event as it offers a rare opportunity to experience a fascinating mix of ancient traditions and modern sophistication,” said Al Ismaili.

Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team (EU) crew list:
Marcel Herrera 21 German (Skipper)
Matt Haslam 22 British
Aaron Cooper 23 British
Matt Rainback 22 British
Peter Knight 24 Guernsey
Max Richardson 21British
Coriolan Rousselle 36French
Tim Corney 28 British
Andy Sinclair 19 British

By Daphne Morgan Barnicoat


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