Muscat, September 8th: Sami Al Shukaili and Ali Al Balushi make history for Oman this week as they embark on one of the most ambitious and competitive racing events on the European sailing calendar, the Tour de Bretagne, in the Sultanate’s first 100% Omani offshore race entry. The Omani duo have teamed-up to take on the challenge of the classic week-long race around the rugged and dramatic coast of north west France in their high-performance Figaro 3 yacht against 36 other teams, including many of Europe’s offshore racing elite.
Both highly experienced and long-standing members of the Oman Sail racing project, the duo began racing on Saturday, September 7th and are currently in 10th place. “I am very, very happy to be taking part in this race, especially as part of an all-Omani crew,” said skipper Al Shukaili. “This is the biggest event of the season and a true test of what we’ve learned so far.”
“I have learned a lot since joining the Oman Sail programme but this year I learned more than I thought. Our goal is to sail well, be safe and go fast – if we sail well that will be a good result.
“I am confident we can do that, but it is a big challenge and it is stressful. There are a lot of rocks here and you have to be vigilant.”
The team will benefit from the support of a shore team and the expert navigation and strategic advice of Oman Sail regular Thierry Douillard before each leg.
Al Shukaili welcomed the support and added: “We will prepare each step very calmly and in detail, and go through it all with Thierry, but it’s really up to us to do it because we’ll be the ones on board.”
Following a prologue event on Friday, the Oman Sail team set off from St Brieuc to St Malo, the first of five coastal race legs which will see the fleet finish in La Trinité-sur-Mer on Saturday 14 September taking in stops in Brest, Concarneau and Lamor-Plage on the way.
The 12th edition of the Tour of Bretagne marks the final event of the season for the Figaro fleet, with what is generally regarded as a demanding technical and tactical coastal challenge that attracts large crowds of sailing enthusiasts. For the Oman Sail team the event marks a milestone on the pathway to taking part in the double-handed Transat AG2R La Mondiale transatlantic race next year and a possible single-handed 2020 Figaro campaign.
“We are very proud of Sami and Ali and all that they have achieved on their way to taking part in the Tour of Bretagne,” said Rashid Al Kindi, Oman Sail’s National Team Manager.
“They have made great progress and we believe they will be competitive. We recognise that most of the sailors they will face have raced on the Figaro circuit throughout the year. Our team is still learning so we are realistic, and our target is that they sail well through the week.”
The Oman Sail entry Majan – an ancient name for Oman – can be followed throughout the Tour of Bretagne via the website https://tourdebretagnealavoile.com and the Yellowbrick tracker at http://yb.tl/omansail_figaro