Inaugural Arabian Challenge success

The inaugural Arabian Extreme 40 Challenge has been voted a huge success, with four teams — including a host of crew members from this year’s iShares Cup series — taking part in the first ever Extreme 40 event in the region.

The first Act took place in Dubai from 27-29 November, racing under the spectacular skyscrapers off the Mina Seyahi. Oman Sail, who had been sailing together consistently throughout the 2008 iShares Cup season to finish a respectable fourth in the European Series, won the first round convincingly, helmed by Chris Draper. They took a lead of 15 points over second placed iShares, skippered by Hugh Styles. Third was Oman Air, skippered by Shirley Robertson, with Team Aqua — another iShares Cup team with French multihull specialist Karine Fauconnier taking the tiller — in fourth.

Karine Fauconnier, skipper of the Dubai-owned team, enjoyed her first experience of close-quarters Extreme 40 racing at their home venue: “The Extreme 40s are so much fun to race and my crew were fantastic. We've had great conditions, perfect for what we are doing here and with such a narrow race area it means there is plenty of action on the racecourse which provides a great spectacle for the public.”

The Arabian Extreme 40 Challenge then moved on to Muscat, Oman for Act 2, racing for the Oman Air trophy from 2-4 December near Port Sultan al Qaboos and the Al Bustan Palace. With royalty, dignitaries, VIPs and members of the international media watching from nearby dhows, the carbon-fibre multihulls enjoyed ultra-close racing on a variety of courses in testing conditions.