UAE GAMES HOPEFULS FACE MAKTOUM TROPHY TEST
Grande finale - the Maktoum Sailing Trophy heads for a big finish at Dubai International Marine Club
All-Emirati crews come under spotlight in climax to Gulf’s top fleet racing series
Ten UAE youngsters hoping for the chance to battle for Asian Games medals in December have the chance to press their individual claims when the Maktoum Sailing Trophy reaches its climax over the next two days.
Ahmed Shaheen and Yousef Khalid will skipper two all-Emirati crews who face close scrutiny in the fourth and final round of the Maktoum Trophy which gets under way at Dubai International Marine Club tomorrow (Thursday) morning. The ten were selected from a 20-strong UAE squad to contest last month’s ISAF Nations Cup regional qualifying event in Dubai, and all are now competing for places in the five-man sailing team which will represent the Emirates at the Doha Asian Games.
While the Maktoum Trophy is a fleet racing event, compared with the Nations Cup and Asian Games which both feature head-to-head match racing, this weekend’s two days of competitive sailing will be an important part of the UAE team’s Doha build-up.
Competing in Class 2 in two Beneteau 7.5 yachts, their performances will be studied closely by Italian coach Raymondo Tonelli and Sid Bensalah, sailing director at Dubai
International Marine Club which created a UAE squad through its youth sailing programme launched seven years ago."This is another good examination for some of our best young sailors as they’re stepping up into a very competitive senior level, and it is all part of their sailing education," said Bensalah. "Several of them have competed in the Maktoum Trophy before by helping out as individual crew members, but this is the first time that they have gone into an event to compete as teams and it will be interesting to see how they work together."
Added Bensalah: "There is still a distance to go before the team for the Asian Games is selected, and the squad will be taking part in two training camps in Italy in the summer. But what happens at the weekend could tell us a lot about the leadership abilities of the two skippers and the team spirit in their crews."
Ahmed Shaheen, the first UAE sailor to contest the Optimist World Championships and the favourite to skipper the Emirates’ team in Doha, takes charge of a crew including his brother Omar as well as Adil Diablo, Jassim Ehab and Ibrahim Al Dowais. Yousef Khalid’s crew members will be his brothers Adel and Hamed, as well as Tawfeeq Al Marzouki and Ahmed Mohammed Al Mutawar.
Kristian Tzanov’s K1 Offshore Racing Team, sponsored by Pal Zileri, will clinch the Maktoum Trophy if they avoid any last round disasters, although defending champions Horizon FCB and Mark Feilberg’s ART Marine crew are both hoping to at least grab one victory in the scheduled five short course races.
Enthusiasts can follow the Maktoum Sailing Trophy on the official DIMC website at www.dimc-uae.com/sailing/mst.
The first of the two scheduled third round races tomorrow (Thursday) gets under way at 1.25pm, with three more races following on Friday, beginning at 10.25am. The 2006 Maktoum Sailing Trophy will be rounded off the following evening by the prize giving and gala dinner at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina.
Ahmed Shaheen skippers one of two all-Emirati crews in the final round of the Maktoum Sailing Trophy
Maktoum Sailing Trophy standings after three rounds: Class 1
1. Pal Zileri Sailing Team (Francis Carr) 13pts 2. Horizon FCB (Christophe Vanek & Alain Fedensieu) 23pts 3. Switchblade (Will Ramage, Cam Price, David Rostant 32pts 4. Goodrich Serdal (Paul Dilworth) 52pts 5. Victory (Jeroen Leenen) 64pts 6. Twister (Glywn & Karen Rowlands) 75pts 7. Tissaheel 2 (Rob Weight) 77pts 8. Virgo Bellica (Cerdric Le Rest) 85pts 9. Get the Mina Effect (Peter Eldridge) 103pts 10. Yo! (Toby O'Connell) 108 pts 11. Vacheron Constantin Team Racing (Mark Devitt) 113pts
Maktoum Sailing Trophy standings after three rounds: Class 2
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