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20 April 2005, 03:51 pm
Battle Is On For Podium Places
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Maktoum Sailing Trophy
Dubai, UAE

While thoughts are already turning to the second edition of the Maktoum Sailing Trophy, the final round of the inaugural series promises a tense finale this weekend under the watchful eye of a top international judging panel.
David WORRALL's (UAE) Sharazad, Serdal Dubai skippered by Mark FEILBERG (AUS) and Will RAMAGE's Switchblade enter the two-day series of short course races off Dubai International Marine Club tomorrow lunch time knowing that one mistake could decide the two remaining podium places.

Now that Horizon FBC has officially been installed as the first winner of the Maktoum Trophy, the next three challenges are separated by just two points as the series draws to a climax after five months of intriguing race action.

Organizers Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) have again brought in five international judges headed by Croatia's Neven BARAN to oversee the seventh and last round which also sees Britain's Brian HOOPER and Mike BUTTERFIELD return as Race Officer.

Selected by the ISAF, the judges will be on hand to hand out instant penalties and possible disqualifications in the event of race infringements, meaning WORRALL, FEILBERG and RAMAGE will have to be at their most alert as they attempt to grab any small advantage.

Owned by Sheikh RASHID BIN KHALIFA AL MAKTOUM, the 44ft Serdal Dubai has consistently been the fastest boat in the series. However it has largely been unable to build up sizeable enough leads needed to score outright wins based on the handicap system in force.

This is designed to help the smaller boats in a series in which boats score points for each rival they finish ahead of, and the system is now persuading FEINBERG and Sheikh RASHID to re-think their strategy for the second edition of the Maktoum series starting in November.

'We will definitely be back next time, possibly in a bigger boat,'said FEILBERG. 'In the meantime it's going to be a big battle for second place between us, Sharazad and Switchblade who have really come good in the last two rounds.'

'Overall it's been a fantastic series, with a good mix of offshore and short course racing. We thought we might have an edge in the offshore events but as it's turned out we've had better results in the short course races, which shows anything can happen.'

Saeed HAREB, managing director of DIMC, said: 'Horizon has been the most consistent performer throughout the series, but we have seen some very competitive racing over the last five months and we expect this to continue over the next two days.'

Depending on wind conditions off DIMC, regatta chairman Sid BENSALAH will send the boats into final round action around 1300 hours local time tomorrow, with two more races to follow later in the afternoon and three more scheduled for Friday.

Tony Lewis (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Switchblade will be challenging for the podium in Dubai:© Event Media
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