Doha – February 13th 2016: EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour completes its 2016 line-up with regional strength as two GCC teams are announced to hit the waves for the sixth edition of the race, which will take place from 14-29 February 2016. Showcasing the talent and legacy of sailing from the Sultanate of Oman, SATT welcomes the return of Team Renaissance, featuring sailing stars Fahad Al Hasni and Nasser Al Mashari, and newcomers Al Mouj, led by the seasoned hands of co-skippers Nico Lunven and Gilles Favennec.
Drawing on their knowledge of local waters, Team Renaissance is eager to combine their offshore and inshore talent for a string of podium places. Fahad Al Hasni, a key member of Oman Sail’s record breaking Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 crew, returns to skipper Team Renaissance for the second consecutive year, and will be joined by Nasser Al Mashari who in December received worldwide acclaim when Extreme 40 crew The Wave, Muscat were crowned 2015 champions of the Extreme Sailing Series.
According to Al Hasni, hopes are high that their fifth place last year can be improved to at least third in this edition.
“I think it is going to be hard because it is a new route with a lot of different challenges which will test us all. The leg from Doha to Khasab in particular will be a test because it is a very long one but Sami and I have done a lot of offshore racing and spent many days and nights at sea so this should not pose too many problems. We aren’t strangers to the race and we know you need to be consistent to be in with a chance of winning. Preferably we want to come first every time whether it is inshore or offshore but if not, to try and make it onto the podium each time if we can.”
Hoping to give Team Renaissance a challenge in the water and eager to join the now nine-strong competition is debutant team Al Mouj. The mixed Omani-non-Omani Al Mouj is looking to spring a surprise in their first SATT experience, backed by the experienced leadership of co-skippers French navigator Nico Lunven, who has Volvo Ocean Race, Tour de France a Voile, Figaro and RORC miles and a SATT 2015 trophy under his belt, and seasoned campaigner Gilles Favennec, a member of Oman Sail’s MOD 70 and M34 crew.
Bringing together local and French sailors, the skippers focused on building a team comradery that would carry them through the gruelling two week race. “This Al Mouj team was put together by Gilles and I and we decided to try to build a team where the goal is to be happy working well as a team for a month,” explained Lunven. “We decided our focus was on being happy so we have a team who know each other and spend a lot of time together.”
The debutant team are excited to tackle the new route, despite not having time to train in the early months leading up to the kick off in Dubai on 15 February, as their skills are sure to shine during the second upwind leg to Doha and the marathon third leg to Khasab. This is where they hope to rack up the points and are serious contenders for a podium place with ambitions to dislodge favourites EFG Bank Monaco from the top spot.
“We would like play for the first place,” said Lunven, before adding “We are especially looking forward to competing against Sidney Gavignet’s team EFG Bank Monaco.”
The 2016 EFG Sailing Arabia – the Tour, also sponsored by Al Thuraya, is the sixth edition of the race with some of the world’s most highly regarded international sailing teams set to grace the waters of the Arabian Gulf. The race combines long offshore legs with high action racing ‘around the cans’ in harbours along the 750 nms course. Oman Sail first launched the race in 2011 and since then, it has grown into the jewel in the crown of Middle East sailing, as the Gulf region’s only long distance offshore event.