Muscat: With two runners-up places to his name, Marcel Herrera, skipper of the ‘young guns’ Team Averda will be pulling out all the stops in the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2016 (SATT 2016), the longest offshore race in the GCC, to turn a flair for adventure into the ultimate treasure trail. This will be the fifth time Herrera has made an attempt on the tour’s trophy, and knowledge of the event has helped him select a crew that have all the skills and qualities to knock the favourites EFG Bank (Monaco) off their perch.
Earlier this month, Team EFG Bank (Monaco), along with Team Mangold and Delft Challenge announced they will take part in the reputable race which brings together the best sailing talent in the GCC alongside some elite international sailors to take on an intense challenge at the perfect time of year. Starting in Dubai on February 14th and ending in Muscat in February 29, the tour offers an unrivalled experience to develop new skills and prepare local crew to compete at the highest level.
Herrera’s young team will comprise mainly sailors from the UK who are forging careers in offshore racing, with recent success in the Figaro class, graduates of the Artemis Offshore Academy or who have been members of the British Olympic Sailing Team.
Although relatively young, the crew of Team Averda between them have thousands of racing miles under their belts, says skipper Herrera who has made his name by putting together crews of highly competitive and talented young amateurs, many of whom are seeking professional careers in offshore racing, and producing performances to match any of the professional crews.
“Our team in 2016 is fairly experienced having competed last year, as well as having competed in prestigious other races including the Rolex Fastnet Race, Solitaire du Figaro and the Royal Ocean Racing Club Offshore Series,” said Herrera.
“We are a young team so cannot come close to boasting the experience levels of someone like EFG Bank Monaco skipper Sidney Gavignet but we do have a good amount of experience for our age.”
“We like the new route - Dubai and Muscat are the two best stop overs and it makes sense to put them in the spotlight. The long legs will make it tough but we are looking forward to giving it our best shot.
“I think the long upwind leg from Abu Dhabi to Doha will probably be the toughest if last year was anything to go by. The fleet got a surprise with how tough it was and we had a lot of work to do to make our boat go fast and keep our equipment dry.
“With the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, we can expect three long weeks of racing in everything from light winds and sandstorms to strong winds and freezing conditions as we had last year.”
The team is sponsored by Averda, the largest integrated waste management service provider in the MENA region who are strongly committed to supporting youth and talent through environmental awareness campaigns and educational programmes they run across all MENA markets.
Last year, Averda’s staff in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha turned out to greet the crew at the end of the last leg and their backing helped their progress onto the podium. “This year will be no different” says Herrera.
“I think it is too early to say where we will finish, however we are hoping to do our sponsors Averda proud and put in a top five finish. We are looking forward to the start of the race in Dubai, seeing the culture and heritage that the Middle East has to offer throughout the 760nm race and being given the opportunity to race in such prestigious sailing conditions.”