Mussanah, 7 April 2021 – The penultimate day of racing at the Mussanah Open Championship ended in dramatic fashion as sailors across five classes pushed themselves to the limits to end the day in contention for honours tomorrow. With Olympic qualification within touching distance, tension was high and in great conditions, the sailors had to use all of their experience to gain the small advantages that could prove so important in the final rankings.
After the second to last rounds of racing, the 49er class remains as tight as ever. Indian pair of KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar retain top spot for the third successive day but the team of Akira Sakai and Russel Aylsworth representing Hong Kong won all three of today’s rounds to propel themselves into second place ahead of the Chinese team of Hong Wei and Chao Xiang in third. The Omani team of Musab Al Hadi and Waleed Al Kindi ended the day in fifth place two points off a medal position. The fleet is incredible close with five points separating third and sixth place meaning Olympic qualification will come down to the final three rounds.
There was no change in the standings in the 49er FX class with China’s Ye Jin and Chen Shasha holding a narrow lead over Molly Highfield and Sandy Wing Chi Choi from Hong Kong. Thailand’s Kamonchanok Klahan and Nichapa Waiwai remain in third place just ahead of India’s Ekta Yadav and Ritika Dangi in fourth.
Speaking after the races, 49er FX sailor Molly Highfield, currently second in the rankings, said, “It was a beautiful day out on the water today. A great competition with great sailing, and it was quite tight. We found ourselves in a couple of tricky spots sometimes but managed to pull through and we’re really looking forward to one more race tomorrow. Every day we get to sail here is a privilege.”
In the Laser class, Ryan Lo Jun Han retained top spot today with two first place finishes. He now holds a commanding lead over the fleet. Keerati Bualong of Thailand is second with India’s Vishnu Saravanan third, China’s Jiannan Wu fourth, Nick Bezy of Hong Kong fifth and Arthit Romanyk of Thailand in sixth as just eight points separating the five sailors.
Nethra Kumaman of India is still at the top of the leaderboard today in the Laser Radial class, with a narrow lead over sailor Emma Savelon in second. However, with eight points separating third and seventh there is all to play for tomorrow. Ramya Saravanan of India is currently third, fourth is Stephanie Norton from Hong Kong, India’s Harshita Tomar is fifth, Nancy Highfield of Hong Kong sits in sixth and Kim Jia of South Korea is seventh but all have a chance of claiming a medal position tomorrow.
In the RS:X men’s class, the impressive Thai windsurfer Natthapong Phonoppharat maintains a strong lead from Filipino duo Yancy Kaibigan and Geylord Coveta headed into the final day. Thailand’s Navin Singsart in fourth, India’s Jerome Savarimuthu in fifth and Renz Amboy in sixth are still in contention for medals tomorrow. In the women’s class, Amanda Ng Ling Kai from Singapore holds a narrow lead over Charizanne Napa of the Philippines. India’s Ishwariya Ganesh remains in third.
Charizanne Napa, said, “The weather was changeable today and the wind kept shifting. I found it difficult today but tomorrow is crucial. Amanda (Ng Ling Kai of Singapore) has been so fast over the past few days but the race is close and I expect tomorrow will be tough.”
Amanda Ng Ling Kai, said, “Two days before the start of the competition I fell quite badly and suffered a suspected MCL tear. In the beginning I was really devastated, crying, thinking I couldn’t sail anymore. The first day I couldn’t walk and the second day it was still really sore but slowly it felt better and there are so many people back home supporting me so I had to give it my all, fight hard, try to finish the races without any DNFs and get to the Olympics.”
Thursday is the final day of competition where the winners and Olympic qualification will be decided. The medal race in each class will be a one-off round for the top 10 boats. If the class does not have 10 boats, then it will be for open to all remaining competitors. Points will be added to the accumulated totals over the entire week.
Joe Rafferty, Event Strategy for race organisers Oman Sail, explained that race integrity will be paramount tomorrow. He said, “Teams will have to bring their boats to a restricted technical area where they will be inspected by the technical officials. They cannot touch their boats again until they go onto the water. If we find that the boats have been tampered with since the original measurement on the first day, which we have marked with stickers and seals, then the team will be disqualified. There is a lot to play for in all of the classes tomorrow so maintaining fairness is incredibly important.”
The Mussanah Open Championship is supported by host venue Millennium Resort Mussanah with addition sponsorship from the International Maritime College Oman (IMCO), Salsabeel water from National mineral water company, Carrefour Oman and OHI Telecommunications. The competition will close with a prizegiving and closing ceremony to honour the participants, sponsors and event officials who have made the event such a success.