(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) A young team from The Netherlands, skippered by 25 year old Kay Heemskerk, is gearing up for a tough challenge against some of the world's top professional sailors and is keen on a podium finish at the upcoming EFG Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT) starting next month.
Team Delft finished fourth in its maiden entry in last year's event and its skipper said the crew is training extremely hard for the February 9-24 contest.
Heemskerk said, ''We have to finish on the podium despite facing competition from top level professional sailors like Bertrand Pac and Sidney Gavignet. We have some new members in the team and we are training together already. I hope this will be visible in our results.''
Heemskerk said he relishes the intensity and variety that the SATT provides with 'a great mix of fast and exciting inshore races' as well as 'gruelling long-distance offshore legs'.
''I like to compete against other teams in both types of sailing, inshore and offshore,'' he said. ''The other aspect I like about the SATT is the opportunity I get to compete against professional sailors.''
Heemskerk said a highlight for Team Delft in SATT 2013 was winning the offshore leg six to Musannah with a comfortable lead of 14 nautical miles.
''Another memorable experience was screaming down the waves, hitting 17 knots while sending our boat downwind in leg three to Abu Dhabi,'' he recalled.
Heemskerk, who learnt to sail as a ten year old in Optimist dinghies and has since become an accomplished multi-hull and keelboat sailor, rates the SATT along with Tour de France a la Voile as his favourite and most challenging events. He finished fourth as an amateur in last year's Tour de France.
For the Bahrain-to-Oman race, Heemskerk's crew includes Dutchmen Leon Boerop, Wouter Sonnema, Coen Bouhuys, Jochem Nonhebel, Robert-Jan Kentgens and Belgium's Dominique Smit.
Launched in 2011 by Oman Sail to reignite the region's rich maritime heritage, promote sailing as a sport and highlight the area as a tourism destination, the SATT covers eight marinas in four nations - Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman, with Muscat as the final destination.
Issa al Ismaili, Oman Sail's event director for the SATT, said, ''The Tour has rapidly become one of the most sought after winter regattas on the international sailing calendar. Also, the race gives us and our competitors a rare tour of the region and its top-class in-port facili