Please select your home edition
Edition
Musto 2017 728x90 Surefooted

French team Beijaflore crowned new champions of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour

by Oman Sail 17 Feb 19:56 GMT 4-17 February 2018

French team Beijaflore were today crowned the new champions of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour ending a four-year winning streak for rivals EFG Bank Monaco as the regatta came to a climax in Muscat, Oman.

Valentin Bellet's polished outfit took the spoils in the Gulf classic, revamped for 2018 to feature a fleet of super-fast Diam 24 trimarans doing battle in five long 'coastal raids' and five short, intense stadium race series at venues all over Oman.

The new format demanded strength, skill and tenacity from the eight international crews competing for the coveted top spot while also showcasing Oman's natural beauty.

Over the course of the 14 day-campaign Beijaflore were models of consistency, dominating three coastal raids plus the Salalah stadium racing in conditions that ranged from light and tactical to epic.

They won a third of all 24 races and finished in a podium position in all but seven races – an impressive scorecard as the team now turns its attention to the Tour Voile, in France, the highlight of the Diam 24 season.

Thierry Douillard's EFG Bank Monaco, winners of every EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour since 2013, took the runners-up spot with five individual race wins and two coastal raid victories. Third place went to Averda, led by British two-time Olympian Stevie Morrison.

"We are really happy to win EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour," said Beijaflore skipper Bellet, 26, from La Rochelle. "We came here wanting to win and we pulled it off. On paper we have a good advantage, but the reality is that on the water it was very close between all the teams.

"We have a very good team, we were well prepared, we fought for every place in every race. This is ultimately what made the difference."

Buoyed by a third-place finish in the 2017 Tour Voile, Beijaflore set an early benchmark with victories in both the coastal raid and stadium racing in Salalah, adding coastal raid wins in Duqm and Ras Al Hadd.

EFG Bank Monaco, meanwhile, started on the back foot with sixth in the Salalah stadium racing series.

Douillard's crew, including former match racing world champion Mathieu Richard and one of Oman Sail's top sailors, Ali Al Balushi, answered back as the Tour moved north, winning stadium racing in Duqm and the coastal raid in Masirah Island.

French team Vivacar.fr chucked their hat in the ring with a stadium race victory in Masirah, while Averda claimed the top spot for the inshore action in Sur.

A win in the fifth coastal raid to Muscat's old town of Muttrah, framed by the stunning Al Hajar mountains, gave EFG Bank Monaco a final boost but by this point Beijaflore's lead was unassailable.

The final podium positions were confirmed when the fifth and final round of stadium racing was cancelled due to lack of wind.

Bellet added: "This event has been fantastic training for the Tour Voile – in France now it is very cold and we can't sail very often but here it's possible to race every day against some of the top teams and discover this beautiful country. It's the perfect preparation for us."

The EFG Bank Monaco crew will now rejoin Averda's sailors, including Abdulrahman Al Mashari, to form a formidable Oman Sail Tour Voile squad which will aim to improve on last year's fifth-place finish.

"We had a big fight with Beijaflore and Averda for the podium spots and we're happy with second," said Douillard, who will lead Team Oman Sail's Tour Voile campaign. "We're still a little bit behind Beijaflore but we had some great days and won a few acts.

"It's very positive for EFG Bank Monaco, Averda and Team Oman Sail. We chose to split our Oman Sail team into two for this regatta to give everyone more time on the water as we work towards our main goal, the Tour Voile, and it worked – everyone improved, and we've sailed at a pretty high level throughout the two weeks.

"It's also clear that the new format of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour was a great success."

Five race wins for Matthieu Souben's Vivacar.fr against two for Bernard Stamm's Cheminees Poujoulat decided the tie for fourth place, while young guns Lorina Golfe du Morbihan, all under the age of 21, finished sixth.

All-woman crew DB Schenker, skippered by Volvo Ocean Race star Elodie-Jane Mettraux and featuring Omani sailors Marwa Al Khaifi and Tamathir Al Balushi, were just pipped to seventh by EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour veteran Cedric Pouligny's all-Omani crew on Renaissance.

A special prize-giving ceremony to celebrate the achievement of the sailors and the success of the new-look EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour was held at Muscat's National Museum of Oman, opposite Sultan Qaboos bin Said's Grand Palace. The awards were presented by His Excellency Sayyid Saud Bin Hilal Bin Hamad Al Busaidi, Minister of State and Governor of Muscat.

EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour overall results:

Beijaflore (Valentine Bellet/FRA) – 14.5pts
EFG Bank Monaco (Thierry Douillard/MON) – 23.5pts
Averda (Stevie Morrison/GBR/OMA) – 28.5pts
Vivacar.fr (Matthieu Souben/FRA) – 37pts
Cheminees Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/SUI) - 37pts
Lorina Golfe du Morbihan (Solune Robert/FRA) – 37.40pts
Renaissance (Cedric Pouligny/OMA) – 59.5pts
DB Schenker (Elodie-Jane Mettraux/GER) - 66pts

Related Articles

Beijaflore edge closer to victory
As EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour enters its final stage French challengers Beijaflore have one hand on the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour trophy as Arabia's premiere regatta enters its final stage following 10 days of blistering action in Oman. Posted on 15 Feb
Beijaflore the team to beat
As EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour action heats up in Oman British Olympian Stevie Morrison's Averda crew scored their best result to date claiming the runners up spot, while reigning champions EFG Bank Monaco came home in third. Posted on 9 Feb
EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour debuts in style
Arabia's premier regatta given a fresh new look for 2018 The new format demands strength, skill and tenacity from the eight international crews competing for the coveted EFG Sailing Arabia – the Tour title over the 14-day campaign as well as showcasing Oman's natural beauty. Posted on 6 Feb
Final countdown begins for EFG Sailing Arabia
The waiting is over, the teams have gathered It marks the start of an intensive 14-day campaign which will take the international fleet along hundreds of miles of Oman's striking coastline before the final, deciding encounters in the capital Muscat. Posted on 2 Feb
EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour preview
A high-class international fleet of Diam 24 racers Though the revised route – as well as the switch to the high-speed Diam trimaran – was only revealed in October last year, eight top teams have signed-up for the Gulf region's premier yacht racing event. Posted on 23 Jan
New boats, new teams and a new course
EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour goes high-speed in 2018 The Gulf region's premier offshore yacht race is to benefit from a high-speed refresh for the 2018 event, organisers Oman Sail have announced. Posted on 1 Nov 2017
EFG Bank Monaco crowned winners
Of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour French sailing star Thierry Douillard today led his EFG Bank Monaco (MON) team to their fourth consecutive EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour title as the Arabian classic came to a thrilling climax. Posted on 1 Mar 2017
EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2017 Leg 5
Title in the balance after Team Al Mouj Muscat win Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA) have kept their dreams of dethroning EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour champions EFG Bank Monaco (MON) alive by pipping them to victory in the nail-biting final offshore leg of the Arabian classic last night. Posted on 28 Feb 2017
EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2017 Leg 4
EFG Bank Monaco sets sights on close rivals Al Mouj Muscat French sailing star Thierry Douillard says his EFG Bank Monaco (MON) crew will focus firmly on defending their EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour title from arch rivals Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA) as the Arabian classic approaches its climax. Posted on 24 Feb 2017
EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2017 Leg 3
Win and overall lead for EFG Bank Monaco Reigning EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour champions EFG Bank Monaco (MON) today tightened their grip on the overall lead with a victory in the third offshore leg of the race around the Arabian Gulf. Posted on 20 Feb 2017