Muscat: Team Delft Challenge has announced they will race the offshore sailing event organised by Oman Sail, EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT). The team, composed of a group of young Dutch students, is set to go head to head on February 14 in Dubai to face a unique sailing challenge, spanning 730 nautical miles in the GCC in 15 days. Their meticulous preparations ahead of the start, involving months of training, show enthusiasm levels running at an all-time high.
Wouter Sonnema’s young team decided after coming fourth last year that they would dispense with professional help on board and ‘do the race on our own’ in order to get more out of their EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour experience.
“We will have to manage our own difficulties and challenges,” said skipper Sonnema who is studying Civil Engineering at Delft University of Technology.
“We have therefore had a more intense preparation this time which started soon after the 2015 race. We have competed in several Farr 30 one-design races in Sweden with the Farr30 Youth Challenge, who have become our partners. It was set up by Pierre Gronberg who is just 17 of age. In September, we sailed his boat back to our home port Scheveningen where we have been training ever since.
“In addition, we have each been sailing together with different coaches and trying to increase our knowledge on all needed areas so hopefully we can compete this time without a professional coach or sailor and achieve the same result as last year. Like many of the young adventurous teams in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, the new route poses only opportunities rather than threats.
“The whole team is looking forward to the new route,” added Sonnema.
“In the past three years, we have had two different routes, both challenging in their own way. This year the route will bring all of the challenges from together from those years into one big new test, especially the long leg since it will require continuous concentration, accurate preparations and a great spirit. We are looking forward to it!
“Due to the coefficients allocated to every leg however, we have to stay focussed till the end - the last leg will be counted double and is likely to influence the final results. Staying focused till the end will be a key factor but we have been training hard on that.”
Training aside, Team Delft Challenge will rank as one of the favourites for a podium place simply because between them, they have racked up so much experience though in widely different disciplines. Coen Bouhuijs, Stijn Seuren and Jochem Nonhebel have raced J22s and bigger yachts as have Jurjen Streng and Marcel Ceelen who returns after two year absence. Gronberg, Jelger Rozendaal and Sonnema all came up the ranks through Optimists, Lasers and now Farr 30s.
“EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is a great sailing race which brings challenging conditions and good teams both professionals and amateurs,” Sonnema continued.
“For us as a student team, it is great to race against professional and amateur teams at the same time because it makes us to sail as fast as possible during the whole race. We also learn a lot while racing and observing the other teams, always trying to improve ourselves.”
Crew List: Jelger Rozendaal, Coen Bouhuijs (project manager), Jochem Nonhebel, Jurjen Streng, Stijn Seuren, Marcel Ceelen, Pierre Grönberg, Wouter Sonnema (skipper).