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Gavignet remains in command as Herrera battles to stay in touch

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 18, 2014

By Stuart Alexander in Ras Al-Khaimah

Ras Al-Khaimah inshore

The Plymouth University-backed team on Messe Frankfurt (foreground) found troubles racing inshore off Ras Al-Khaimah as part of the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour. Picture: LLOYD IMAGES

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A lacklustre day of inshore racing did little damage to Marcel Herrera’s Plymouth University-based team in the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour series, but it widened the gap of his second-placed Messe Frankfurt to the overall leader. Sidney Gavignet’s EFG Bank clinically posted two wins and a second.

Herrera, in contrast, picked up two fourths, the first when he managed to tie a knot in the spinnaker, the second when he took a penalty turn for being early on the start line. The third race came to an abrupt end when he ran his Mumm 30 Messe Frankfurt aground, had to be nudged off by a rigid inflatable, which constitutes outside assistance, and retired to the marina.

Navigator Coriolan Rousselle was ashore planning the next leg from Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK) to Dibba, a section of the course which takes the six boats through the Straits of Hormuz. The threat from pirates has considerably reduced, the exclusion zones keep the boats close to the shore and they will be escorted by both coastguard and Royal Omani Navy ships.

Herrera is well-clear of third-placed Team Delft from the Netherlands and Gavignet, the French skipper for OmanSail but wearing the colours of Monaco on his EFG Bank boat, has virtually a leg in hand. Only a disaster between RAK, Dibba, Mussanah and the finish in Muscat will stop him converting from race favourite to trophy holder.

Recovering from gear damage the day before, the Californian Kate Pettibone took her all-woman crew, half from the Omani academy, to three thirds but is now one point behind the Dutch in fourth overall. The Omani team on Renaissance, whatever its position at the start of the races, had booked last place and was determined to claim it in the absence of the Royal Navy of Oman boat. The shore crew had fitted a new engine to the navy boat overnight, but the sailors stayed at their hotel until racing was over.

Standings: 1 EFG Bank (S Gavignet) 7pts, 2 Messe Frankfurt (M Herrera) 13.75, 3 Team Delft (K Heemskerk) 20.5, 4 Bank of Muscat (K Pettibone) 21.5, 5 Renaissance (M al Busaidi) 26, 6 Royal Navy of Oman (A al Alawi) 34.25.

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