Horizon FCB tightened her grip on the Maktoum Sailing Trophy yesterday by making a perfect start to the fifth round of the series at Dubai Offshore Sailing Club.
Owned by Sheikh Khaled BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN and skippered by Christophe VANEK (FRA), the 36ft Horizon comfortably won both of the opening day's two races on handicap after one of her biggest title challengers, Serdal Dubai, had twice taken line honours.
On a day of near perfect sailing conditions, Serdal skipper Mark FEILBERG (AUS) and his crew worked hard to capitalize on their superior speed and stay in the hunt for the Maktoum title. However whilst the 44ft challenger, owned by Sheikh Rashid BIN KHALIFA AL MAKTOUM, produced a flawless performance, it was not enough to unsettle VANEK and his crew, which included two of the UAE's brightest young sailing talents, brothers Adel and Yousef KHALID. They were concentrating on staying out of trouble and followed Serdal to the line twice to score two comfortable victories on handicap.
Sponsored by Van Oord, MMI and Thomsun/Yamaha, the fifth of seven rounds of the series at DOSC is creating a new chapter for keelboat racing in the UAE, with arbitration on the water being carried out for the first time by an international panel of judges appointed by the ISAF.
'This is setting the scene for some very exciting racing because the smartest skippers can use the rules to their advantage while they can also lose out if they make a mistake and pick up an immediate penalty,' said Saeed HAREB, Managing Director of Maktoum Sailing Trophy organizers Dubai International Marine Club.
The judges were soon in action, inflicting a penalty turn on John ROSE's Class 2 series leader Insatiable following an infringement against Xclusive, skippered by Yousef BIN LAHEJ, quickly after the start of the first race.
That setback saw ROSE lose out in the race to David MADDEN's Time Out, and the result was repeated in the second race of the day. However Insatiable still held a commanding overall lead in Class 2 and appears to be unbeatable.
With Horizon seemingly well in control and on course to become the first winner of the prestigious Matkoum Trophy after four rounds, both David WORRALL (UAE), skipper of second-placed Sharazad, and FEILBERG, had hoped to use tactics to close the gap on the leaders.
In the opening race, a perfectly executed manoeuvre at the second turn gave the advantage to Serdal Dubai and they gradually moved away from Horizon to be first across the finish line. However the IRC handicap system gave Horizon a clear win from Serdal, with David ROSTANT's Switch Blade taking third place ahead of Sharazad, Xclusive, and Patrick CAHILL's Southern Cross.
There was a similar pattern to the second race, although no more penalties for the judges to impose and Switch Blade this time finished runner-up to Horizon in front of Serdal Dubai. The fifth round of the Maktoum Trophy continues at DOSC with two more races today whilst the last two rounds of the series follow later this month.
|1||Horizon FCB||Christophe VANEK||1||1||2|
|2||Switch Blade||David ROSTANT||3||2||5|
|3||Serdal Dubai||Mark FEILBERG||2||3||5|
|5||Southern Cross||Patrick CAHILL||6||5||11|
|6||Xclusive||Yousef BIN LAHEJ||5||6||11|
|8||Mina Effect||Brian HILLESDON||8||8||16|