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19 April 2005, 02:42 pm
Horizon Clinches Title
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Maktoum Sailing Trophy
Dubai, UAE

Horizon FCB has been confirmed as the first winner of the Maktoum Sailing Trophy. Winning skipper, Christophe VANEK (FRA) and his crew will be looking to finish the series as they began by winning this weekend's final round.
The boat's owner, Sheikh KHALED BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, will be among the crew for the fourth time in the seven-round series which draws to a conclusion with two days of short-course racing off Dubai International Marine Club starting on Thursday lunch time

Sheikh KHALED will receive the Maktoum Sailing Trophy at the official prize giving ceremony and gala dinner taking place on Saturday evening at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, the official hotel for the series.

Horizon virtually clinched the series by winning the penultimate round, the 108-nautical mile Dubai-Sir Bunair-Dubai Race, two weeks ago, leaving only a faint mathematical chance that they could be caught in the title race.

This was removed when plans to make the final round another offshore event scoring double points were reviewed to give the series a grand finale closer to it's home base at Dubai International Marine Club on Thursday and Friday.

'We're very excited to be the first winners of the Maktoum Sailing Trophy,' said Sheikh KHALED today. 'This means a lot to us. We had hoped all along that we would come through and win it and it has been a very interesting and challenging series.'

'Sailing is very enjoyable and gives me the chance to develop my skills and interact with nice people in a sport which is part of our heritage here. We will definitely be defending our title, and we certainly won't be taking the last round lightly. We'll be racing to win.'

Sheikh KHALED welcomes the news that the second edition of the Maktoum Sailing Trophy getting under way in November will virtually double in size, featuring at least 30 boats, including top challengers from Australia and Europe.

'It's very important for the sport here to have entries coming in from around the world,' he said. 'Basically, we now have two levels of racing here, the club events, and the Maktoum series which is raising the bar for those who want to go one step further and compete against the professionals, and others with more experience.'

French skipper VANEK, who made the perfect start to the series by guiding Horizon FCB to victory in the opening round back in December, said: 'Consistency has been the key. The crew have worked well together and been very motivated… We've used 18 crew members overall, and Sheikh KHALED has been very much involved. He was fantastic in the Dubai-Muscat Race, which is a long event, and worked hard like everyone else.'

VANEK says that while the title race has been decided, the final round could produce a classic fight for the two other podium places at the weekend between David WORRALL's (UAE) Sharazad, Serdal Dubai, owned by Sheikh RASHID BIN KHALIFA AL MAKTOUM and skippered by Australian Mark FEILBERG, and Will RAMAGE's Switchblade.

With boats scoring a point for each rival they finish ahead of, the trio are separated by just two points and VANEK says: 'There's going to be a big battle for second and third places. There's still a lot at stake and it's going to be an exciting finale to the season.'

Tony Lewis (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Maktoum Sailing Trophy winner Horizon:© Event Media
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