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Team AISM claims second-leg honours

Team AISM, skippered by the experienced Bertrand Pace, claimed the top honours in the Doha to Abu Dhabi second leg of the EFG Bank Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT) 2013 on Thursday. The victory in the longest leg of the SATT for the Dubai-based team helped it move to the overall second place with 6.75 points behind Team BAE Systems of Oman, which has 5.50 points.

After 18 hours of sailing that saw the Team Abu Dhabi boat get grounded and the crew being airlifted, first-leg winner Team BAE Systems finished second. Skippered by Cedric Pouligny, Team BAE Systems managed to stay ahead of strong contender EFG Bank (Monaco) Team and strengthened its grip at the top. Sidney Gavignet's EFG Bank Team settled for third place following a mechanical problem on its boat. The team is also placed overall third (7.00 points).

Incidentally, all the top three teams at this stage of the SATT 2013 are being skippered by Frenchmen. Soon after winning the second leg, Pace said, “It was amazing. We kept changing spinnakers (sails), but actually the boat speeds were all very close. We had a close fight with EFG Bank (Monaco).” With Pace's crew showing good form, skipper Pouligny of Team BAE Systems believes the race is going to get tougher.

“It was a good leg, but Bertrand [Pace] is going to be hard to beat. He has a 100 per cent professional crew and they don’t make too many mistakes,” Pouligny said. Besides Team Abu Dhabi, the tricky second-leg race also saw Oman's Team Renaissance, skippered by Mohsin al Busaidi, and the Netherlands' Team Delft Challenge-TU Delft running aground. However, both the teams recovered and continued to race. Team Delft Challenge, skippered by Kay Heemskerk, did well to finish fourth, just ahead of Team Messe Frankfurt.

Team Abu Dhabi, led by Adil Khaled, had its rudder damaged that forced the boat to run aground. With the crew and race committee boat failing to get the vessel out, the UAE coast guard's assistance was sought and the crew eventually had to be airlifted. The team will later assess the damage to the boat and may resume the SATT from Ras al Khaimah, skipping two upcoming legs - Abu Dhabi-Dubai and Dubai-Ras al Khaimah.

The all-women crew onboard Al Thuraya bank muscat Team, skippered by Dee Caffari, finished seventh, while Royal Navy of Oman Team didn’t finish the race within the time limit. Speaking after a dramatic night of sailing, Issa al Ismaili, Oman Sail's events director, said, “The aim of the Tour is to provide talented sailors from around the world and across the GCC an intense challenge. The second leg provided a stern test and it is only through such experiences that our local crews can take on bigger challenges.” The teams will have the second of the inshore (in-port) racing off the Abu Dhabi corniche on Saturday. Team AISM had recorded a clean sweep in the first set of inshore races in Doha.

muscatdaily columnists