After a collision with rival team Renaissance, Team AISM out of Dubai is still in first place following the fifth leg while Team Abu Dhabi has not re-entered Sailing Arabia since early troubles.
Team AISM hold onto lead at Sailing Arabia despite costly collision
RAS AL KHAIMAH // AISM, the Dubai-based leaders of Sailing Arabia – The Tour suffered a collision with rival team Renaissance during Monday's in-port race that left them rushing to repair their boat in time for Tuesday's Leg 5.
AISM, skippered by Bertrand Pace, was coming in on a starboard tack with rights while Renaissance was coming in on a port tack without rights.
For the Renaissance crew the choice that needed to be made in a split second was to duck behind AISM or tack before reaching them.
Unfortunately Moshin Al Busaidi, the Renaissance skipper, admitted that through indecision between him and his professional French tactician Thierry Douillard, he hesitated before tacking.
"When the helmsman is thinking of one solution and the tactician is thinking about another, there are big problems," Al Busaidi said.
Renaissance tacked, but it was too late for Pace to avoid her and the two boats touched. Renaissance came away unscathed, but struck one of the stanchions (the metal pole sticking out of the deck from which the lifelines are mounted) on AISM, causing the deck beneath it to be crushed.
AISM's Benoit Briand gave his version of events.
"To avoid Renaissance we had to luff, but the boats were too close and we couldn't avoid having contact and we touched the starboard side of Renaissance. Unfortunately we broke our boat – the deck is not very good."
Renaissance carried out a penalty turn to exonerate themselves while the boatbuilders were busy making a repair to AISM's deck.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud Al Qasimi, the Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah, watched on yesterday as EFG Bank and BAE Systems, the teams fighting for second place in Sailing Arabia, shared the spoils with a victory apiece in the two in-port races.
Today the teams race to through the Strait of Hormuz for Leg 5 and the first Omani stopover at Zighy Bay.
It will be one of the most significant legs of the race so far, as Pace and AISM will be aiming to keep maintain their lead as they head around the Musandam peninsula.
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