Oman Sail’s Mussanah Race Week 2015 will have a brand new look to it in 2015 when the focus shifts to Oman’s youth sailors by pitching them against champions from around the world in the first ever Optimist Class Champions League. Up to 120 young Optimist sailors between the ages of 8-15, parents and coaches, including the cream of Oman’s young sailing talent, will descend on Mussanah Sports City from January 18th to 24th for a week of training and competition.

A strong field will include some of the best young sailors in the class with the team from Thailand set to feature Voravong Rachrattanaruk, regarded as the best Optimist sailor in the world, and Singapore’s golden girl Jodie Lai, who will be heading up the talented squad that landed six medals at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea last September. Rising star Muhammad Fauzi Shah from Malaysia, one of the quickest sailors on the youth circuit, will line up against young champions from Europe, Asia, South America and Africa to form an impressive international contingent of 68 representatives.

Pitting their wits against this stellar talent will be around 45 of Oman’s finest young sailors, including members of Omani National Youth Squad and selected others from Oman Sail’s Omantel Youth Programme, co-sponsored by Oman Shipping Company, all benefitting from exposure to this high level of competition.

The athletes’ efforts will not just be confined to the racetrack, with a daily schedule expected to feature Corporate and Personal Development activities aimed at instilling leadership, teamwork and communications skills within the children. Participants will also take part in outdoor challenges, educational and self-empowerment exercises that will provide a practical learning experience and build a close camaraderie between the young sailors, as well as fuelling their appetite to pursue international sailing careers.

“We wanted a competition in Oman where the champions from the different continents raced against each other, so we had the idea for an unofficial Champions League which reflects our growing focus on developing Oman’s young sailing talent,” said Salma Al Hashmi, Director of Events and Marketing at Oman Sail, who has led the remodelling of Mussanah Race Week this year. “The idea is to have the best sailors in the world coming here to Oman and bringing the best coaches and strong back-up teams to follow their progress. We have been inundated with entry applications, so hopefully this demonstrates a level of interest that can be built on over the next few years.”

Speaking on the new format of the event, Rashid Al Kindi, Oman Sail's National Team Manager said, “The benefits of hosting an Optimist Champions League during Mussanah Race Week are considerable for both Oman and Oman’s young sailors. Our homegrown youngsters and their coaches will see how the different nationalities operate as teams, how they are coached and how they are inspired. It is also an opportunity for the top sailors in the world see the state-of-the-art facilities and ideal sailing conditions hat we have in Oman.”

“By restructuring this event, we are marking Oman out as a high quality venue for international sailing events which will allow Mussanah Race Week to grow further. Last year, we won acclaim for hosting the Laser World Championships and we need to work hard to build on that recognition.”

Registration for 2015 Mussanah Race Week is yet to close but so far competitors from 19 nations have entered, including: Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Great Britain, Germany, Malaysia, Mozambique, Norway, Oman, Poland, Qatar, Singapore and Switzerland. All teams will be based at the Millennium Resort Mussanah and the Mussanah Marina where Oman Sail has one of its four sailing schools.