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HORIZON BATTLES ON IN MAKTOUM SAILING TROPHY TITLE RACE

HORIZON BATTLES ON IN MAKTOUM SAILING TROPHY TITLE RACE

19.04.2006: HORIZON BATTLES ON IN MAKTOUM SAILING TROPHY TITLE RACE



Vanek and his crew fight to keep Sheikh Khaled’s boat in the hunt

 

Dominant in last year’s Maktoum Sailing Trophy but second best so far this year in the Gulf’s top fleet racing series, Horizon FCB will not give up their title without a big fight in this weekend’s third and penultimate round.

French skipper Christophe Vanek knows that unless he can outlast runaway leaders Pal Zileri in the non-stop 24-hour race starting from Dubai International Marine Club tomorrow morning (Thursday) his crew’s reign as champions will be virtually over.

But Vanek, who has a wealth of top level offshore racing experience, is certainly not throwing in the towel, and he will be calling for maximum effort and concentration from his crew as the boats head through the night."We haven’t really made any special preparations for the race, but we know it is going to be a long night, with no sleep at all because we’ll be pushing hard, he said. "The breaks are made during the night. Navigation is very important, and there will be lots of coffee, and concentration on boat speed."

The 36.7 ft Horizon, owned by Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nayhan, was often in a class of its own in the inaugural Maktoum Trophy series, but so far this year Vanek has been unable to match the faster 44.7 ft Pal Zileri, which had an almost perfect record in the first two rounds of short course racing.

"We had a difficult first round when we put a lot of pressure on ourselves by collecting penalties at the start of the first two heats which put us in a catch up situation," he said. "It could have been very close, but we gave it away."The second round was very windy which definitely favoured the larger boats because they can go through the big waves a lot easier. Pal Zileri has a good crew with three Italian professionals, and they are very hard to beat. But we haven’t given up hope and will be trying to win the third round. We have a great deal of experience in this kind of event, and I personally love long distance races. While the round the buoys races that we had in the first two rounds are like a sprint, this is like a 5000 metres event. To win we have to be smarter and faster than the opposition."

Currently lying fourth in the series as skipper of the boat which finished second in last year’s Maktoum Sailing Trophy, Paul Dilworth is happy with the performance so far of Goodrich Serdal, whose crew includes UAE national Ali Ahmed Almuaini.

Dilworth, who has been sailing for almost 40 years, re-named the 44.7ft boat after acquiring it before the current series and says: "With a new team on a new boat and lying fourth overall I’m content with our performance so farm.We have no outsiders on the boat and everybody on the crew is 'home grown' from here in Dubai. Round one is now a foggy memory but the five races in the second series stand out because of the wind conditions which, at around 30 knots, are about as heavy as we will ever get in Dubai, and something not everybody is used to. "

"That particular series saw many retirements, disqualifications and breakages which had a real effect on the overall results. We were lucky to have just a few holes in the sails which we repaired between races but were unlucky to lose Greg Murray off the boat 100 metres before the finish. Under the rules of racing we had to go back for him before we could finish the race. This lost us four places in that particular race-but that’s ok. He's a really nice Australian guy who you don’t mind going back for."

Looking forward to the 24-hour third round battle, Dilworth said: "Our hopes in the long overnight race is to get round safely with no injuries and everybody still on the boat. Between myself and many of the crew we have done quite a number of overnight races in a number of locations but it will be a first time for two of them.

"One of my tactics is to not tell anybody else my tactics. The crew will have to get used to intense periods of excitement when very tired and periods of boredom and frustration when the wind strength reduces in the night, and we get into the stronger currents twenty five miles out. We will be racing in some very congested waters-particularly around The World and The Palm Deira and the crew will have to be alert to the dangers of other vessels who are out there making a living.




Enthusiasts can follow the Maktoum Sailing Trophy on the official DIMC website at www.dimc-uae.com/sailing/mst

Captions:

The crew of Horizon FCB will be battling to stay in the hunt for the Maktoum Sailing Trophy as the third round of the series unfolds this weekend.

Skipper Paul Dilworth will be telling the crew of Goodrich Serdal to stay alert and build on their good performances so far. 

 

- Tony Lewis, Total Communications Dubai -

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19.04.2006 / MaP

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