Super skipper’s sailing success

by Gazette Reporter
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ROYAL St George YC’s Adrian Lee Cookson led his crew to break a 13-year record as the Lee Overlay Partners boat claimed the IRC Racing Division title in the 2013 Dubai to Muscat Race.

The Irish canting keel racing yacht claimed the honour early on Tuesday, traversing the Gulf of Oman in two days 53 minutes and 40 seconds, setting a new course record for the 360-mile race.

Speaking to after the race, Lee Cookson praised his crew for their efforts, breaking the monohull record for the longest offshore yacht race in the Arab region.

“The crew have been absolutely first class,” he said. “We have sailed together for many years and beating the course record is a very special moment for us.

“We think we have done well on handicap but we will just have to see how the competition does before we will really know. I think we made some excellent tactical decisions and if we had to run the same race again, I doubt if we would have changed much.”

His boat enjoyed higher than expected winds that saw the boat cut a swathe along the course that works its way out from Dubai and around the UAE’s peninsula before shoe-horning back along the Omani coast.

On that second leg, Lee Cookson’s boat sped along amid a storm at a more than healthy pace though other boats struggled with the conditions with three boats retiring.

“What has really surprised me about the race is the 30 knots of wind we experienced. It was not forecast and seemed to just come from nowhere.

“The Strait of Hormuz was an impressive sight with the mountains of Musandam in clear view, it was a spectacular exit from the Arabian Gulf and what followed was a dramatic introduction to the Indian Ocean.

“A storm blew in from astern and with the wind speed touching 30 knots, we were often at over 10 knots of boat speed and surfing down waves at over 16 knots, what a ride! The storm seemed to pass but the wind hardly decreased, we were trucking along but we have had to put in a few big gybes, which the crew have executed with great precision.”

The 360-mile race is the longest offshore yacht race in the region and is organised by The United Arab Emirates Sailing and Rowing Federation in association with the Ministry of Sports Affairs, the Sultanate of Oman.

It was the 22nd edition of the race, organised under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing club. HH Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nehayan was the guest of honour for the start.

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