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4 February 2005, 09:18 am
World Champion Helps Serdal Dubai
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Maktoum Sailing Trophy
Dubai, UAE

With Australian Michael SPIEF providing a world champion's knowhow, Serdal Dubai made a winning start to the third round of the Maktoum Sailing Trophy yesterday (Thursday).
Owned by Sheikh Rashid Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and skippered by another Aussie, Mark FEILBERG, Serdal Dubai won the first of the day's three scheduled races in the two- day event at Jebel Ali Sailing Club, the latest chapter of the exciting new seven-round IRC series

Lying firth overall after the opening two rounds, the 44.7ft Bénéteau clearly benefited from the tactical expertise of Spief, the current 11-Metre One Design world champion who had arrived from Australia earlier in the week to help prepare the boat and join Sheikh RASHID'S crew.

Serdal Dubai won the opening race from Maktoum Sailing Trophy overall leader Horizon FCB, which is owned by Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al NAHYAN and skippered by Christophe VANEK, with David ROSTANT taking Switch Blade home in third place using the IRC handicap system.

Xclusive, with Yousef Bin LAHEJ at the helm, finished fourth, while Patrick CAHILL'S Southern Cross and Alan SKENNERTON'S Shockwave Aquamarine completed the top six.

Enjoying competitive action in the series for the first time was one of the UAE's brightest young sailing talents, Adel KHALID, who joined the crew of Horizon FCB along with brother Yousef and a third member of the UAE junior sailing team, Khaled MOHAMMED.

One of the stars of last week's Dubai Junior Regatta, Khalid, like the Xclusive skipper, is a product of the youth sailing programme launched by Dubai International Marine Club six years ago and won the Laser 4.7 title at the 2003 European Championships.

Sponsored by Southwest, Van Oord and MMI, the Jebel Ali Sailing Club event is the latest round of a series helping to take sailing in the UAE to a new level by serving up fairer competition, creating more public interest and attracting more people into the sport.

The series was devised by Saeed HAREB, Managing Director of Dubai International Marine Club, who hopes take it will ultimately take place alongside the world's leading offshore events such as Australia's Sydney Hobart Race.

These are early days, but the series is already attracting international attention. New French Americas Cup skipper Alain FÉDENSIEU flew in for a guest appearance to help Horizon FCB win round one, and regatta chairman Sid BENSALAH was surprised when a CNN film crew arrived at DIMC recently to interview him about the series.

A two-times 18ft skiff world title holder, Spief was recruited in the hope that his tactical expertise could provide an extra competitive edge, and lift Serdal Dubai from its fifth place overall after the first two rounds.

'This is the first time I've been here but I'm very impressed with what I've seen so far,' said Spief, who has contested the Sydney Hobart Race 28 times, winning it in 2003 and just a few weeks ago capturing the IRC division at the helm of another 44.7ft Bénéteau.

'People are already talking about this new race series in Australia and I don't think there will be any problem in attracting the top skippers here. This crew seems to be on top of things and I'm just here to fit in and do whatever they want me to do. I've got a pretty good handle on the new 44.7s and I'll just be trying to steer them in the right direction.'

Enthusiasts can follow the Maktoum Sailing Trophy on the official DIMC website via the link below.

Event Media (As Amended by ISAF)
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