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17 January 2005, 09:37 am
French Former America's Cup Yachtsman Aims For Second Win
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Maktoum Sailing Trophy
UAE

Three-times Americas Cup contender Christophe Vanek expects a tough time at the weekend as he chases a second successive victory in the Maktoum Sailing Trophy, the new race series taking the sport to the next level in the Gulf region.

After winning last month's opening short course event in the exciting seven-round IRC class series, Vanek and his crew will be under evere pressure as they attempt to maintain their 100 per cent record in the 108-nautical mile Dubai-Sir Bunair-Dubai Race. The experienced French yachtsman takes over the helm from former World Offshore champion Alain FÉDENSIEU, who skippered the 36.7ft Horizon FCB to success last time out. He believes the bigger boats could now have an edge when round two leaves Dubai International Marine Club and heads offshore for Sir Bunair island on Friday morning.

'The longer hulls give them an advantage because they'll be faster for sure,' said Vanek, who celebrates his birthday on Friday. 'We'll be traight on the same tack for four or five hours and I'll be very surprised if one of the bigger boats doesn't cross the line first. Having said that, anything can happen in this kind of race, especially if there's a light wind. The handicap system means that any boat can win, and that's what we'll be aiming for.' Enthusiasts can follow the Maktoum Sailing Trophy on the official DIMC website at www.dimc-uae.com/sailing.

Fédensieu, selected to lead a new French challenge in the 32nd Americas Cup, had made a guest appearance as skipper of Horizon FCB in the opening round of the Maktoum Sailing Trophy, and he is likely to be joined by more top overseas talent in future events as the series develops. Maktoum Sailing Trophy 2 'I have known Alain since the mid-1980s and he was happy to come here to make a guest appearance,' said Vanek, speaking from this week's international boat show in Dusseldorf, Germany, which he has been attending as general manager of UAE leisure boat company, Duboats.

'He will be back for one or two other rounds and I'm sure we'll see a lot of other international yachtsmen taking part because the series is definitely going to grow. There is so much demand for yachts in the Gulf region now.' Added Vanek: 'The Maktom Sailing Trophy is raising the profile of sailing. Bringing in people like Alain will his will help boost the championship and attract sponsors, and their presence is vital. If you just raced boats painted white with a number on the side people wouldn't follow the sport.'

Among those aiming to prevent Horizon FCB moving out of sight in the race for the Maktoum Sailing Trophy will be last month's first round runner-up, Switch Blade, skippered by David ROSANT, and former UAE rally driving champion Alan SKENNERTON who finished third in Shock Wave Aquamarine.

David WORRALL, skipper of Sharazad and vice president of the UAE IRC Owner's Association, will be hoping to improve on his opening display. He won the final race but dropped to fourth overall as a result of a brush with Switch Blade which brought disqualification in race four.

Organised by Dubai International Marine Club and stretching over the next four months, the Maktoum Sailing Trophy was launched for the spectacular new IRC (International Racing Certificate) class of sailing boats given birth by a recently created national body in the UAE. Staged with the support of the entire UAE sailing community, including Jebel Ali Sailing Club, Dubai Offshore Sailing Club and the Emirates Heritage Club Abu Dhabi, the series is an important step in plans to give sailing a major boost in popularity in the Gulf region.

Tony Lewis (As Amended by ISAF)
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