Thursday, November 27, 2008

Arabian Extreme 40 Challenge in Dubai started today

[Source: Oman Sail] The guests on the beach at the Mina Seyahi in Dubai were given a fantastic show today as four Extreme 40s raced within metres of the shoreline on Day 1 of the Arabian Extreme 40 Challenge - Act 1 Dubai. The conditions were perfect for these spectacular 40-foot catamarans: flat waters and a 12-15 knot wind that saw the boats flying hulls and giving an exhilarating ride for the the VIPs and journalists onboard in the sixth-man position.

"What a brilliant day," said Pete Cumming, Skipper of day 1 leaders Oman Sail. "We definitely have the advantage as we have been training as a squad for the past few months, but the other teams still pushed us hard today. It was a big learning curve for everyone, if you didn't gybe in time, you'd end up on the beach!"

The Arabian Extreme 40 challenge has been brought to the GCC region by Ellen MacArthur's company OC Events to showcase these awesome catamarans and look at the possibility of bringing the professional circuit to Dubai in the future.

Oman Air Extreme 40 Skippered by Shirley Robertson racing on day 1 of the Arabian Extreme 40 Challenge. Dubai, 27 November 2008. Photo copyright Mark Lloyd / Oman Sail

Two members from the Oman Sail core crew raced on each boat including Khamis al Anbouri on the second Oman Sail Extreme 40, Oman Air, newly sponsored by the airline. "What a brilliant day!", he said through a beaming smile. "To race alongside the world's top sailors as part of their team is an awesome experience.

"It was really hard work today; constantly thinking, listening and reacting to the wind shifts or the calls from the skipper. It was also hard learning new accents. We've got used to Pete and Chris's English and now to hear a New Zealand accent from Fraser Brown or the soft voice of Shirley Robertson, it's really hard to adjust! I've never raced in Arabian waters, nor in such fantastic wind conditions, so it is really exciting. I can't wait for tomorrow."

"I'm really proud of the Omanis who raced today," Pete continued. "All the other skippers have told me what a fantastic job they've done today, gelled well with their teams and have worked extremely hard."

Fleet racing on day 1 of the Arabian Extreme 40 Challenge. Dubai, 27 November 2008. Photo copyright Mark Lloyd / Oman Sail

Shirley Robertson agreed, "The Oman Sail core crew have been trained really well. They are physically fit, keen to learn and their dedication to sailing is evident. It was a a great fun day on the water. Dubai is one of the most perfect locations to go sailing, a fantastic amphitheatre, good wind and I'm really happy with the way our team performed. The whole team gave as much at the beginning as at the end and worked really hard. We'll be looking to step up a gear tomorrow to put pressure on Oman Sail for the top spot."

It was a first for French multi-hull legend Karine Fauconnier as she raced an Extreme 40 for the first time. "Wow! Well that was a great first day. It is so much fun to race a brand new type of boat, but high pressure too. My crew and I had sailed together for the first time just yesterday and so we were having to learn not only about the boat, but each other. I'm not happy with our results today as I am very competitive and here to win, but I knew that these were top class sailors and I wouldn't be able to just turn up and walk away with first prize. I'm determined that we are going to fight our way up the leaderboard tomorrow.

Oman Sail took five first places in the six-race day, with iShares, skippered by Hugh Styles in second place, followed by Shirley Robertson and Oman Air on 13 points and TEAM AQUA on 9. Each race lasted approximately 15 minutes in the short, sharp races that have epitomised the professional Extreme 40 European circuit this summer, the iShares Cup.

Racing on day 2, Friday 28 November, will take place from 2.30pm local time with up to six races and the final day of racing will be on Saturday 29 November. The boats will then be packed up and trailered to Muscat for Act 2 of the Arabian Extreme 40 Challenge for the Oman Air trophy.

Highlights from the 1st day of the Arabian Extreme 40 Challenge. Dubai, 27 November 2008. Video copyright Oman Sail

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