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Pantaenius Claims Handler Marcel Herrera skipper of Team Averda in EFG Sailing Arabia 2016

April 27, 2016

The first 3½ weeks of February saw Pantaenius Claims Handler, Marcel Herrera taking part in the  ‘Sailing Arabia the Tour’, organised by Oman Sail.  He was sailing as the skipper of Team Averda, crewed exclusively by amateur sailors, but taking on the challenge against mostly professional sailors. 

Averda, is the largest waste management company in the MENA region and is a long term and proud supporter of this young British offshore sailing team. 

It was Marcel’s 5th time competing in the race, and having been the skipper on 4 occasions in the past, he had set his sights on a 3rd consecutive podium finish for the young British team. This years’ competition was tight, with names like Sidney Gavignet, Fabien Delahaye, Nicolas Lunven, Cedric Pouligny, Dee Caffari and many more competing in the race, marking the event as a tough challenge for anyone to win.

The race was a series of 5 offshore legs covering a total of 750 nautical miles and 3 import racing days. The schedule was tight, and in 15 days of racing there were only 2 rest days, which meant that Marcel and his team of 5 others spent a lot of time on board the 30’ Farr 30 sports boats that are not synonymous with comfort nor luxury. However, the same things that make this race a gruelling one, also make it great; from the oil fields and exclusion zones to the constantly shifting sands of the surprisingly shallow Arabian Gulf. 

The scenery during the event ranged from utterly barren to stunningly beautiful; passing cliffs that dropped from 1000m, across uncharted mounds of sand, to avoiding the colossal tugs and barges that move these great mounds of dessert around the gulf. The teams saw turtles, dolphins, big fish, small fish, and dodged the nets of the locals taking advantage of the abundance of sea life in this part of the world.

During the night the ocean was lit up by phosphorescence so bright that the boats left a trail of glow in the dark plankton behind them. The oil fields burnt hot and red as the rising sun, meaning that at any point where the team’s came close to these ‘floating cities’ they could leave their head torches downstairs. It truly was a journey of discovery as much as a highly competitive offshore series.

Marcel’s team won the first import series and the first offshore leg from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. However, as time went on, the rest of the fleet seemed to find their stride, and the familiarity of the boats for the veterans of multiple Tour du France a la Voile campaigns seemed to pay dividends. 

Team Averda held on to their second position overall until the final leg of the tour when the on-form Al Mouj team, led by French offshore sailing legend Nicolas Lunven took the leg win, relegating the young British team to third overall.

The final positions were :

1st EFG Bank Monaco – Sidney Gavignet

2nd Al Mouj – Nico Lunven

3rd Averda – Marcel Herrera

Well done Team Averda!

    

Image credit: Mark Lloyd