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30 April 2006, 04:59 pm
FEILBERG Lines Up Big Challenge
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Maktoum Sailing Trophy 2006
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Australian Mark FEILBERG, runner up in the first Maktoum Trophy last year, is aiming for a big finish to the Gulf's top fleet racing series next weekend to pave the way for a major title challenge in 2007.
FEILBERG, a late starter in the 2006 series, has set his sights on a debut win for the ART Marine team's new high tech carbon fibre and kevlar Stomp38 racing yacht in the final round of the Maktoum Trophy at Dubai International Marine Club in UAE on Thursday and Friday.

Having missed the first two rounds, the new team will not feature in the Maktoum Trophy standings this year. But FEILBERG is determined to end the season with a flourish before firming up plans to have as many as six boats involved next year when a new ten day format is expected to attract a strong foreign entry.

'We're looking to run four boats in the Maktoum Trophy next year, and we'll have at least two others available for charter by crews coming in from overseas to take part,' he said.

'For the time being, our priority is to put on a good show in the final round next weekend, and we'll be looking to get a race win under our belt, and finish on the podium overall. But we're already planning for 2007 and we expect to be a formidable force.'

Pal Zileri Set For Victory

Barring any major last round surprises, Kristian TZANOV's (BUL) K1 Offshore Racing Team, sponsored by Pal Zileri, looks certain to succeed Horizon FCB as the Maktoum Trophy champions.

TZANOV's crew have scored ten out of eleven race victories over the first three rounds. While they will be looking to extend their winning sequence at the weekend, third place in each of the final round's five races would be enough to clinch the title.

Having already confirmed that he is investing in a second boat to contest the 2007 Maktoum Trophy, TZANOV, who will have three Italian professionals on board for the final round, knows already that he faces a much tougher time next year.

Aussies Boost Challenge

ART Marine, which launched its marine hospitality business in spectacular fashion in Dubai last week, will use FEILBERG's Aussie connections to boost its challenge. Ian SHORT, whose career wins include the famous Sydney Hobart race, flies in from Australia to act as crew boss next weekend.

SHORT, who introduced FEILBERG to offshore racing 20 years ago, has a wealth of experience to pass on. This will be particularly helpful to the boat's UAE tactician, Yousef BIN LAHEJ, and the crew's youngest member, 15 year old Max BUERGER.

'We're already seeing a good number of promising young local sailors making the step up from junior events into the Maktoum Trophy,' said Sid BENSALAH, sailing director at DIMC and the regatta chairman. 'This is fantastic experience for them, and they can learn a lot from competing with and against top competitors from overseas.'

The final round is being supported by the Mina Regatta, a big weekend of family and corporate entertainment at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina.

For a complete list of all the news from the Maktoum Sailing Trophy 2006 CLICK HERE.

Tony LEWIS (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The Maktoum Sailing Trophy is heading for its climax at the weekend, while attention is already turning to the 2007 series:© Bob MCCAFFREY/Total Communications
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