During the final showdown of Oman Sail’s Mussanah Race Week, competitors yet again faced some challenging conditions as they battled it out for podium positions. The wind was a light 8-10kts and with a small chop, it took maximum focus and skill for the sailors to keep momentum throughout the two races.
During the closing ceremony Oman Sail’s CEO David Graham reiterated the event’s objectives: “To offer a platform for our Omani sailors to further improve their racing skills; to provide world class sailing facilities and coaching with an aim to grow this event into a significant international world regatta; to contribute to one of our overarching objectives of rekindling Oman’s maritime heritage. With 200 sailors representing 30 different nations, world class sailors lining the starts and an ever increasing youth fleet, Oman Sail is surely well on its way to achieving these.”
This is the 3rd annual Mussanah Race Week, and each year the level of the competition increases, this year playing host to some of the world’s best talent. Oman Sail’s Director of Events Issa Al Ismaili says: "Oman Sail is very grateful to all of the visiting competitors for putting Mussanah Race Week in their diaries. The week has been a huge success, both on and off the water. Year on year it continues to grow, from the initial 4 nations in 2011 to 30 nations in 2013. It has also been a good way to test our event management as a preparation for the Laser Worlds, which will be held at the end of this year. We would like to thank the international Jury and Committee who have ensured the smooth and professional running of this event, ensuring that competitors experienced the best possible racing at all times. We look forward to Mussanah Race Week 2014."
Taking first overall in the Optimist fleet was UK’s Harry Bone-Knell who consistently demonstrated skill and determination throughout the event; “The conditions can be tough here, and if I wasn’t leading at the start I found I made my gains through kiting and sailing fast on the downwind legs. I’ve had an awesome regatta, and I’ve really enjoyed sailing here.” It’s great to see such close sailing in the youth fleet, these are the sailors of the future, and it is from this young enthusiasm that masters will grow. Coming in 2nd overall was UK’s Oscar Lindley Smith, and taking 3rd place was Mahesh Balachander from India.
Fionn Conway of Ireland showed some impressive knowledge and skill in the Laser 4.7, counting all first places, he was not only happy with his performance, but also with the venue, stating: “I don’t think there is any other place to sail like this in the world.” Mussanah can present some tricky conditions at times, which are set to test the competitors, and it is those who remain continually aware, learn to read the patterns and get in phase with the shifts who manage to stay out in front.
Conway comments: “In the second race I had to make some small adjustments to where I was putting my weight so that I could maintain boat speed through the chop.” It’s subtleties like this that mean that there is always close racing in Mussanah and sailors must be continually aware. Coming in a close 2nd place was Qatar’s Mohamed Al Mohannadi and taking 3rd Ross Banham from the UK.
Once again the young team from Singapore put on an impressive performance. They have totally dominated the front of the Laser Radial fleet, throughout the week. They’ve consistently sailed clean races and tried to stay tuned in to the shifts. Jevyn Ong commented: “I’m delighted to win the regatta, it’s been a great place for us to sail and it’s been a really well organised event. Winning this has given me confidence for when I hopefully come back to compete in the Radial Youth Worlds later this year.” Whilst Ong took 1st, his team mate Amos Lim came in 2nd, with UAE’s Adil Khalid in 3rd.
In the Laser Standard fleet Olympic Gold Medallist, Paul Goodison won the final race of the regatta, he stated that: “This gorgeous temperature and these light and tricky conditions are just great to sail in, the shifts mean that the competition is never over.” New Zealand’s Andy Maloney took his third race win of the regatta, throughout the racing he has been hot on the heels of the overall winner Tom Burton from Australia. Maloney stated: “After starting at the busy pin end I managed to cross the fleet when I tacked on to port, rounding the windward mark in 2nd, I was in phase with the shifts from the gun which helped. I overtook on the downwind leg and hung on to 1st.” There has been some tough competition at the front of this fleet, with Olympians and world title holders fighting it out, but finishing in 1st position overall is Tom Burton, 2nd Andy Maloney, and 3rd Paul Goodison from the UK.
It was another day of fierce battling between Gurven Bontemps and Benjamin Amiot of France and Musab Al Hadi and Ahmed al Balushi from Oman, as they fought it out for first position, from beginning to end there has only been 1 point difference and the teams are clearly very equally matched on the water. Bontemps commented: “We’re very happy to have won overall, it’s been so close for the whole regatta.”
It really did come down to the final day in this fleet, Al Hadi comments on the intensity of the regatta: “This week we have constantly been fighting with the French, but it’s been great, because we are so evenly matched. We managed to win the last race, so it’s great to finish on a high in our home waters.” The French team not only revelled in Mussanah’s fantastic sailing conditions, but they also thoroughly enjoyed the Omani hospitality and events in the evenings, Bontemps stated: “The Arabic evening was really fun, we especially enjoyed the dancing, this is a completely new experience for us, and it was lovely for us to be catered for so well.” After their tough event, Bentemps and Amiot finished in 1st overall, with Al Hadi and Al Balushi taking a very respectable and well earned 2nd, and French team Tangay Kervyn and Emmanuel Boulogne came in 3rd.
It was a fantastic day for Oman Sail’s RSX Windsurfers, as the team finished in the top 3 positions, with Waleed Al Kindi in 1st, closely followed by Faisal Al Quataiti in 2nd and Khalfan Al Athubi in 3rd. Their coach Koray Ezer explains how proud he is of their achievements: “It’s awesome to see my team in top 3, these conditions are what we are experienced in sailing in, our light wind technique is what we are used to, and it’s clear that their fitness is of a high standard. It’s a good experience for them, and great preparation for the upcoming season where the team will be competing in Europe. Al Quaitaiti commented: “It was a really close race at the front of the fleet, and it was hard work as we were pumping all the time. I’m really pleased with my result though.” Taking 1st place overall, winning every race he competed in was Sweden’s Adam Holm, in 2nd position Al Kindi and after some impressive fighting and determination in 3rd place is Al Quaitaiti.