The growth of competitive sailing in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean has today taken a further step forward as the sailing events company, OC Events (Asia), launches two new premier racing circuits.
The entire region is steeped in maritime heritage and legend, and is criss-crossed by a multitude of ancient and historically significant ocean trading routes. Professional and competitive sailing is only just awakening, but development of pro circuits will probably happen faster than the decades it has taken in Europe.
Building on the foundations of the Asian Record Circuit established by Dame Ellen MacArthur in 2007 onboard ‘B&Q', and the Extreme Sailing Series Asia to be staged this winter in Hong Kong, Singapore and Muscat (Oman), OC Events (Asia) have now launched two inaugural premier racing events – the ‘Tour of Arabia' and the ‘Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race'.
The launch of the first of the new Arabian 100 (A100) Class trimarans, Oman Sail's stunning Majan, is the catalyst for the creation of these two new ground-breaking offshore racetracks. On 10 November, Majan will set out from Kuwait City in the north of the Arabian Gulf on a five-leg tour that will cover 1,700 nautical miles (3,150km), to trace out and test the route of the future ‘Tour of Arabia' race. Stopping in Bahrain, Qatar Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Majan's voyage will finish in Muscat, Oman.
The ‘Tour of Arabia' will lead directly into the premier edition of the ‘Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race'. Other than the recent traverse of the Indian Ocean by the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, current traditional oceanic courses only exploit the southern part of the Indian Ocean and above 40 degrees South it remains the most unchartered territory as far as professional racing is concerned, yet it offers a wide variety of tactical challenges and conditions.
As with the ‘Tour of Arabia', Majan will trace out this new course taking the big dive south for a giant tour of the Indian Ocean Capes facing the challenges of all the combined might of the Southern and Indian Oceans. From the heat of the tropics, frustrations of the windless Doldrums at the Equator to the towering waves of the Roaring Forties. Majan plans to set out on the 6th February, 2010, on this 15,000 nautical miles (27,780km) course, that should take between 35 and 40 days including stopovers.
The Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race will pass the Capes of Ras Al Hadd (Oman), down to Cape of Good Hope (South Africa), across the frozen wastes of the Southern Ocean to Cape Leeuwin (SW Australia), past Cape Piai on the tip of the Malaysian peninsula (the southernmost point of mainland Asia, just to the west of Singapore), and back underneath Cape Comorin (southern tip of India) to Oman on the Arabian Peninsula. As the class of large ocean going trimarans like Majan (sistership to Thomas Coville's Sodebo) grows, it is planned for this to develop as a recurring event on the ocean racing calendar.
Oman Sail's new A100 Majan, designed by Nigel Irens and Benoit Cabaret, was built in Australia before being assembled locally in Salalah (Oman). David Graham, CEO Oman Sail: “We built and launched Majan, the first Arabian 100 with a plan. We believe that the combination of exhilarating boats and challenging conditions in this economically buoyant region has a real potential for future growth. In conjunction with OC Events, we look forward to racing around the Arabian Gulf, Indian and Southern Oceans this winter and next spring.” Internationally renowned sailor, Paul Standbridge, will skipper Majan alongside Mohsin Al Busaidi who became the first Arab to ever sail non-stop around the world on board Majan's stablemate, the 75-ft trimaran Musandam back in March this year, and they will be joined by two professional crew and two Oman Sail trainees plus a media crewman, Mark Covell.
Mark Turner, CEO, OC Events: “The launch of the new A100 class with the first sea miles of Majan presents us with an opportunity to develop these two new fascinating racetracks. These courses have both historical and sporting credibility, and equally commercial interest for sponsors of future competing teams. Between the ‘Tour of Arabia' and the ‘Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race', we're visiting 10 key markets, passing through all the corners of the Indian Ocean via five great Capes, and linking the Middle East with Central Asia. Professional yacht racing might have developed with an Atlantic flavour, but the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean remain great unchartered territory for future sailing events.”