EFG-Sailing Arabia-The Tour: Renaissance bags first-leg honours

Team Renaissance crew members celebrate their win in Sohar on Wednesday

Oman's Fahad al Hasni is often regarded as a favourite protege of offshore great Sidney Gavignet, who has won three successive EFG-Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT) titles. 

Gavignet missed this year's edition due to injury, but Hasni proved that the skills learnt from the Frenchman were good enough to lead Team Renaissance to a thrilling opening-leg win at the 2017 SATT in Sohar on Wednesday.

Renaissance overcame a stubborn fight from defending champion EFG Bank Monaco to claim the top honours of the 105 nautical-mile race that began at Al Mouj, Muscat on Tuesday evening.

Winning the first of the five offshore legs that covers a total distance of 763 nautical miles, Renaissance has set the tone for a keen battle between EFG Bank and Al Mouj, Muscat, which was pushed to the third spot in the final few metres before the finish line.

Hasni, who has competed in every edition of the SATT since it began in 2011, said the win has given his crew 'a boost ahead of the second leg to Khasab'. The second offshore leg, covering a distance of 140 nautical miles, will begin at Sohar on Thursday. “It is an amazing feeling to win the opening leg of the Tour,” said Hasni.

“We managed to be consistent and good winds in the final stages helped us edge EFG Bank Monaco. It is very satisfying to win. It all comes down to our communication onboard, which was excellent.”

EFG Bank Monaco skipper Thierry Douillard promised to bounce back in the second leg and admitted that in the end, Renaissance was faster than his team's boat.

Al Mouj, Muscat, runner-up in last year's SATT, had taken an early lead, but slipped back to second place overnight. The team's trimmer Gilles Favennec of France said the crew was happy with the result despite the third place.

Standings [after first leg]: 1 Team Renaissance (1 pt), 2 EFG Bank Monaco (2), 3 Team Al Mouj, Muscat (3), 4 Team Zain (4), 5 Adelasia di Torres (5), 6 Team Averda (6), 7 Bienne Voile (7), DB Schenker (8).

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