WORRALL knew anything less than an outright win for him and his crew coupled with a slip by Horizon would mean their title bid was over. But in the early stages of the race Sharazad was down in third place as Serdal, followed closely by Horizon, made the running.
Owned by Sheikh Khaled BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Horizon went into action holding a commanding 11-point advantage over Sharazad, with third-placed Serdal Dubai another three points adrift. Boats score points for each rival they finish ahead of, and with points being doubled in the offshore events like this weekend's, the status of the title race is revealed by some simple arithmetic.
'We've got to win and have get at least one boat finish between ourselves and Horizon,' said WORRALL shortly before the start. 'If we can do that we'll pick up four points on them and that could give us a chance of catching them in the last round.'
'The danger is that Serdal is only three points behind us and their crew is getting better and better so we'll have to look out for them. If Horizon finishes ahead of us that will be the end of it from our point of view.'
WORRALL took hope from Sharazad's victory in round two of the Maktoum Sailing Trophy over the same course back in January. 'In each of the offshore races so far we've been leading for the majority of the time, so we seem to be more of an offshore boat,' he said. 'That's possibly because we don't have so much experience in the round-the-cans races and while we're fast we sometimes get in the wrong positions.'
With winds of 12-14 knots forecast, the leading boats were expected to make good speed and reach Sir Bunair before midnight, returning to the finish at Dubai Offshore Sailing Club late tomorrow morning.
Barring any major change in the weather, the 24-hour race record of second round line honours winner Serdal Dubai, which is owned by Sheikh Rashid BIN KHALIFA AL MAKTOUM, should be easily eclipsed.
After missing the first race out to Sir-Bunair three months ago because of work, airline pilot Glywn ROWLANDS and his wife Karen were hoping for a strong performance in their unmistakable green-hulled yacht Twister.
One problem was that work commitments had reduced their crew from six to four, making it unlikely they would be able to unfold the spinnaker for the downwind return from the island.
'I'm the owner and Karen's the skipper,' said ROWLANDS. 'There are times on the boat when we agree to disagree over certain things, but generally we work well together. Long races suit us because we don't have a terribly experienced crew at the moment.'
'We've lost some crew members to some of the new boats and others have bought their own boats. We haven't done so well in the series so far, but we're hoping for better things from now on.'