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Beijaflore edge closer to EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour victory with one stage remaining

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Beijaflore edge closer to EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour victory with one stage remaining_2

French challengers Beijaflore have one hand on the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour trophy as Arabia's premiere regatta enters its final stage following 10 days of blistering action in Oman.

Valentine Bellet's impressive outfit have proved the form team over the last ten days of action that has seen a mix of long coastal raids and intense stadium racing in Salalah, Duqm, Masirah Island and Sur.

With just one venue and two points-scoring opportunities remaining, Beijaflore are the odds-on favourites to usurp EFG Bank Monaco as kings of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour.

They go into the last two clashes – one coastal raid and one stadium race day – with an almost unassailable ten-point lead over EFG Bank Monaco thanks to wins in the Salalah coastal raids and stadium racing plus Duqm and Sur coastal raids and a string of podium finishes.

In order to beat Beijaflore, EFG Bank Monaco would have to win both race days and Beijaflore would have to finish last on both occasions.

But EFG Bank Monaco are also focussed on their Oman Sail team mate, Stevie Morrison…

After a good run of results, including victory in the Sur stadium racing series, Averda, led by British two-time Olympian Stevie Morrison, have snuck back to within two points of EFG Bank Monaco.

Averda have a nine-point buffer on fourth-placed Lorina Golfe du Morbihan but only two points separate them from Cheminees Poujoulat in sixth, with Vivacar.fr sandwiched in between.

And Renaissance and DB Schenker are just five points apart in seventh and eighth, guaranteeing a full-on, no holds-barred finale to the 2018 EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour: a coastal raid from Bandar Al Rowdha to Muscat's old town of Muttrah on February 16 followed by a closing day of stadium racing there on February 17.

"Despite our lead we aren't thinking about the overall result," said Beijaflore skipper Valentin Bellet, "We will just treat the last part of the regatta like we have treated all the others. Our goal is always to sail fast and to beat the other teams. The rest will come."

EFG Bank Monaco skipper Thierry Douillard said his crew would now pull out all the stops to prevent Beijaflore from taking their EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour title, however unlikely, while defending their position from Averda.

"Beijaflore are almost out of reach but we still have points to gain and we want to win the last two acts of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour," he said. "With Averda it's pretty tight now though – it's really a fight between us. We're here to win that fight."

Morrison, meanwhile, is ready to raise the pressure on Douillard's crew, made up of his teammates in Oman Sail's Diam 24 squad that will take on the Tour Voile, the season highlight, in France this summer.

"EFG Bank Monaco are two points ahead in second and they're our main target now going into the final stage," said Morrison. "We need to beat them both days to do that but given how we've sailed recently we think that's possible. Whatever happens it's great training for our Oman Sail squad as we gear up towards the Tour Voile later this year."

The 2018 EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour winners will be crowned at a prize giving ceremony at Muscat's National Museum of Oman on the evening of February 17, attended by guest of honour His Excellency Sayyid Saud Bin Hilal Bin Hamad Al Busaidi, Minister of State and Governor of Muscat.

Provisional results:

1. Beijaflore (Valentin Bellet) – 13 pts

2. EFG Bank (Thierry Douillard) – 23pts

3. Averda (Stevie Morrison) – 25 pts

4. Lorina Golfe du Morbihan (Solune Robert) – 34.4 pts

5. Vivacar.fr (Matthieu Souben) – 35 pts

6. Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm) – 36 pts

7. Renaissance (Cédric Pouligny) – 57 pts

8. DB Schenker (Elodie Mettraux) – 62 pts

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