– Oman Sail’s Team Asyad Shipping team joined the eight regular crews for the finale of this season’s 44Cup, held at Al Mouj Muscat Marina. The 44Cup is back in Oman for the first time since 2014 for four days of high-speed racing on identical RC44 boats. Team Asyad Shipping’s participation marks the first time an Omani team has ever competed in the international 44Cup Tour – a sign of the progress Oman Sail has made in the sport.
“It was good to catch up with this strong fleet for the first time, even if the conditions were tough. Our team is beginning to restart racing whereas the rest of the fleet is here for the final,” explained helmsman, Musab Al Hadi, Oman’s 49er helm.
“We are just trying to learn as much as we can because it is an opportunity. We will keep fighting and not let it go. It won’t be easy. You need everything – good helmsman, tactician and a good reading for the wind and there you go.”Light winds proved difficult for all of the teams, and even the Tour winners – the Monaco-based Charisma, skippered by Dutchman Nico Poons – struggled on the first day notching a rare second place finish in a season they have dominated.
The first race saw Chris Bake’s Team Aqua perform well, leading into the top with Team Nika on her transom, then defending well to hold onto first place. This was followed by Team Nika’s win in the second, again from a good start and claiming the left. With the afternoon wearing on and shadows getting longer, the third race was claimed by Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing, on which Steve Howe, an American former Farr 40 skipper is steering this week.
Aleph Racing’s tactician Michele Ivaldi explained: “It was pretty tricky – in the first race we struggled a bit. In the second we had a good start and were launched but then when we got to the left side of the course there was a massive split breeze and fell out of the right, so we were then playing catch up. The third race was the same set-up, but we managed to go all the way to the left with speed and then we tacked and crossed all of the fleet and led from then on – which wasn’t easy.”
Stronger winds are expected tomorrow when racing continues, with forecasts suggesting 11-13 knots. Racing is scheduled to get underway at 12:30 local time (UTC -4 hours). Follow live from www.44cup.org.
Alongside the racing, Oman Sail and environmental partners Environment Society of Oman (ESO) and UN Clean Seas joined forces to continue its commitment to the local environment with a beach clean-up at Al Hail beach. Joined by members of Team Asyad Shipping, Team Aqua, Black Star Sailing and Artemis Racing, as well as Oman Sail staff and local school children from Ahmad bin Majid Private School, 32 bags of waste were removed from the shore to leave the sand clearer and the waters cleaner for the local community and native wildlife.
Oman Sail works closely with stakeholders in order to minimise its carbon footprint and ensure the environmental health of the nation is embedded in every event we deliver. A beach clean-up is embedded in all events delivered in the Sultanate of Oman to ensure international sailors come together and raise awareness of the importance of protecting beaches and the dangers of single use plastic.
The 44Cup Oman is organised by Oman Sail and also supported by official event partners Oman Air, Al Mouj Muscat, Kempinski Hotel Muscat, Tanuf Water, Transom Catering, environmental partners Environment Society of Oman (ESO) and UN Clean Seas, and the new EQ range from Mercedes-Benz Oman.