(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) The countdown to the start of the 760 nautical miles fourth EFG Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT) has begun with the Farr30 boats of the six participating teams arriving at the Amwaj Marina in Manama, Bahrain on Monday.
With the skippers and the crew members also assembling in Manama, final-round preparations are going on for the fortnight-long off-shore race, organised by Oman Sail.
The SATT will begin from the Amwaj Marina on February 9 and conclude at The Wave, Muscat on February 24. The first leg to Doha in Qatar will see the fleet cover 100 nautical miles .
The next few days in Manama will help the sailors lay down vital markers in the region's only long distance sailing contest.
One of the teams to beat this year will be EFG Bank, skippered by experienced Frenchman Sidney Gavignet. The crew comprises two young Omani sailors, Ali al Balushi and Mohammed al Mujaini.
Gavignet said, ''We'll have two days of training just before the start. On paper, we have a very good team compared to the others, and we will be going all out to win the race. But Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team was quite fast last year, so it could spring a surprise. We are expecting a very intense race.''
Messe Frankfurt, the team mainly comprising students, is apparently the most prepared of all with over eight months of training behind them. But like all the sailors flying in from a chilly northern Europe, they will have to do a lot to get acclimatised before setting off.
''There are four of us who did this race last year and four new people. Hopefully, we can do a better job than last year,'' said skipper Marcel Herrera.
The crew on Royal Navy of Oman is also well prepared and although skipper Abdulaziz al Husseini only joined them recently, he has seen enough from his crew of naval sailors to be hopeful of a good finish.
The all-women crew on board Al Thuraya bank muscat will hope to come up with a better show under new skipper Katie Pettibone. The team comprises five Omani sailors “ Raiya al Habsi, Ibtisam al Salmi and debutants Khaloud al Araimi, Huda al Mashrafi and Raham al Shezawi.
After the opening leg, the teams will travel to Abu Dhabi, followed by stopovers at Dubai, Ras al Khaimah, Dibba and Musannah, before finally finishing in Musca