(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) A sunny day, coupled with strong winds, made for near perfect sailing conditions ahead of the start of the fourth EFG Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT) at the Amwaj Marina in Bahrain on Sunday.
However, there was disappointment for the six teams as the start had to be pushed back by a full day due to 'safety issues'.
Race officials asked the fleet to wait till Monday morning to set sail on the 100-nautical-mile first leg from Amwaj Marina to The Pearl Marina, Doha in Qatar.
According to race director Gilles Chiorri, the race committee boat arrived late, and also, there was a delay in the availability of the mandatory flares, which together made him call off the day's action.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Chiorri said, ''We have to follow marine safety rules and regulations in such offshore races. These are passive safety measures, but are quite important.''
The Frenchman added, ''The delay in the arrival of the race committee's boat was one of the reasons [behind the decision]. Also, we received a late go-ahead from Bahrain Royal Navy for the availability of flares [needed for distress situations]. The safety of the sailors is paramount. We couldn't have gone ahead [with the race] without the race committee boat that escorts the fleet, and without the flares.''
The delay gave the sailors an extra day to practise at Amwaj Marina's waters in ideal sailing conditions. Mohsin al Busaidi, skipper of the all-Omani boat Team Renaissance, said, ''We would have loved to start today as the conditions were near perfect.''
Marcel Herrera, the 21 year old skipper of Messe Frankfurt Team, said, ''The decision was taken for the safety of the teams, so it is fine. But the conditions were to our liking and we really wanted to start today.''
Katie Pettibone, skipper of the all-women's team Al Thuraya bank muscat, was happy to get an extra day to help her teammates train. ''I hope there is a forecast for strong winds tomorrow, just like it has been today. The
conditions were just perfect,'' she said.
Earlier, Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdulla al Khalifa, chairman of the Bahrain Maritime Sports Association, presided over the opening ceremony of the SATT 2014. ''It is great on the part of Oman Sail to continue with the Sailing Arabia-The Tour,'' he said. ''We promise to support them as it is a nice concept to have a race involving the GCC countries.''
Issa al Ismaili, events director of Oman Sail, gave a brief introduction of the region's only long-distance offshore race featuring world-class sailors.
He said, ''The unique sailing challenge and endurance race encourages one of the region's fastest growing sports and reignites the rich maritime heritage of the Gulf region.
''We want to leave a legacy and by showcasing some of the best sailing talent from around the world, we hope to inspire a new generation of sailors in t