MUSCAT: After racing around the Channel and Atlantic coasts of France, the 26-strong fleet have arrived in the Mediterranean for six days of back-to-back racing which will decide the outcome of the uniquely demanding event.
On the way the #SailingArabia powered by Oman Sail squad have recently faced and overcome adversity, with bowman Ali Al Balushi suffering a hand injury during the coastal race in Barneville-Carteret which has ended his sailing participation.
With light winds also influencing several race results, not least a dramatic single-race stadium shootout at the most recent event in Baden-Golfe Du Morbihan, the team are aiming to bounce back in the final three events.
The #SailingArabia powered by Oman Sail squad of skipper Thierry Douillard, Abdulhaman Al Mashari, helmsman Stevie Morrison and French match race ace Mathieu Richard are in fifth place on the leaderboard with 396 points, just two behind the fourth place Team Reseau Ixio and only four from third placed Lorina Mojito Golfe du Morbihan.
“We are still right there in it, and we are close to where we would like to be and we will work very hard to get there,” said Morrison while travelling to the first Mediterranean venue in Gruissan.
“It is frustrating as there have been a lot of missed opportunities with the wind starting and stopping, and maybe our card hasn’t fallen the right way up quite yet. But there are six days to go and we still feel very positive.”
The British Olympian added: “It was unfortunate in Barneville where Ali had his accident, but he did an amazing job in carrying on for two and a half hours with what turned out to be two badly broken fingers – he really fought for the team.
“It is a strain on the team to lose one of your bowmen and it means Abdul is sailing every day now, so it is a big load on him. The spirit is good though and we are fighting hard for Ali and he will be staying with us for the rest of the event. He has been training with us for a year, and he is a character and a vital part of our team, so he will come with us all the way.”
Meanwhile, Oman Sail’s Diam 24 development squad of Sami Al Shukaili, Yasser Al Rhabi and Haitham Al Wahaibi, led by skipper Pierre Le Clainche, are in an impressive 12th place overall, having posted six top-10 finishes in the nine coastal races and stadium racing sessions held so far.
Following two days of racing in Gruissan on July 17 and 18, the Tour Voile moves on to Hyeres and then the finale in Nice on the July 21 and 22.