The world’s best young sailors have started to plot their year campaigns with Mussanah Race Week, a week-long regatta that aims to test their skills. After flying in to Oman from around the world, 150 young champions representing 20 countries are busy forging life long bonds before racing gets underway this Wednesday.
The week-long event combines coaching sessions with racing, making it a great platform for the participants to interact and exchange knowledge with their counterparts.
In a series of corporate personal development exercises designed to introduce them to the superb athletes environment at Mussanah Sports City and also to each other, the young sailors are being encouraged to have some physical exercises before the actual competition kicks off. This focus on corporate personal development is an essential part of the Mussanah Race Week experience, explained Oman Sail’s Salma Al Hashmi, Event and Marketing Director at Oman Sail.
“Since it was launched in 2011, we have seen a big growth in the number of sailors taking part, the number of countries and classes,” said Al Hashmi.
“In past years, we have focussed on Optimists but we are delighted to have added the Laser 4.7 and Laser Radials in 2016 and hope to add more in future years. Many of these young sailors will go on to be Olympic champions and it is great to think that Mussanah will have played a part in their success”.
In all, there are 104 Optimist sailors including Jodie Lai from Singapore, the world’s best female Optimist sailor who came second in the Optimist World Championships in Poland last September, Norway’s Mathias Berthet who won the bronze medal and Dante Cittadini from Argentina who finished fourth in Poland. They will compete in an Optimist fleet that will be split into gold and silver divisions with three races staged every day, depending on the conditions.
Oman is well represented with 28 Optimist sailors drawn from the Oman Sail Youth Programme, sponsored by Omantel, and their four sailing schools across the Sultanate. They include Al Motasem Al Farsi, who won the Best Under 12 prize last year and talented Mohammed Al Qasmi. In addition, there will be 26 competitors in the Laser 4.7 fleet, including 13 Omanis and 21 in the Laser Radials, four of them representing Oman.
Watching the world champions in action will be a great opportunity to inspire local kids who will also have access to world class coaches including Maurizio Bencic of Slovenia and Javier Figueroa, who coaches the stellar successful Singapore squad. With the sailors, coaches, race management, families and other support staff, the Mussanah Race Week family will number around 280, while Oman Sail has planned to develop the event into one of the top youth regattas in the world.
“Our aim is to expand the number of classes and make sure we have the top youth sailors competing in them. The plan is to make Mussanah Race Week a very strong youth event and make sure Mussanah is recognised as a top international racing venue,” added Al Hashmi.
Before taking to the race track, the participants will have completed their corporate personal development (CPD) programmes which involve exercises such as colour blind, which requires people to identify different colour shapes while wearing blindfolds, product assembly, pipe line, energy ball and ice breaker. “These activities have been designed with a view to having some fun before the serious business of competition begins but they are also designed to add an important and worthwhile dimension to this event to make it stand out from other youth regattas,” said Khamis Al Anbouri, a recognised sailing athlete who has re-joined Oman Sail to supervise and develop the Corporate Personal Development programme.
A grand prize-giving ceremony is set to bring the curtain down on Mussanah Race Week after three racing days on Saturday 23rd January.