Sailing Arabia The Tour (SATT) is underway for Team Delft Challenge. The team set off from Manama Bahrein in the early hours of February 10 2014 to begin the race that takes fifteen days and roughly 1500 km to complete.
Although the race was meant to begin a day earlier, the start of the first leg was postponed. The culprit was the delayed arrival of safety flares. The sailors spent an extra day waiting, but set off at 6:45 Monday morning.
This is the second year that Team Delft Challenge has entered the SATT. The field consists of seven teams, where five of the teams are professional sailing teams. Team Delft Challenge and Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team are the only amateur teams made up of students.
SATT is a unique sailing tour in that each team is using the same boat, a Farr30. This essentially levels out the playing field. No team has an edge with a special boat, so the teams' skills are at the forefront. Team Delft Challenge is eager to see how they stack up against the professionals in these circumstances.
Last year, Team Delft Challenge finished with an impressive fourth place. They even won one of the offshore legs. This year the team is looking to better that result. Their goal is a lofty third place overall. This goal is looking promising, with already a third place finish in the offshore race from Manama to Doha, Qatar.
Although the Netherlands is enjoying higher than seasonal temperatures and no real winter to speak of, it is still a treat to sail in temperatures of 25 degrees. For the next two weeks, the team will be in shorts instead of warm jackets and winter hats.
Although the weather is not a hardship, Team Delft Challenge has to get their boat all the way to Bahrain from the Netherlands. Not an easy feat. Their boat was stuck in customs and only got cleared shortly before the beginning of the tour which was a relief.
The team shared an interesting anecdote on their social media. On the flight to Bahrain, they met a friendly Canadian. During the flight he listened to all their SATT stories. Before landing, the Canadian was worried that they needed cash for their visas, so he gave them some money. When the team's credit card worked, he refused to take the money back and encouraged the team to “Buy something nice! Or have a beer on me!”
Team Delft Challenge is a unique sporting team as they do all of their own managing, logistics and sponsorship dealings. You can follow the very social Team Delft Challenge on their Facebook page, on Twitter at @delftchallenge and on their website.