Young Omani sailors seal success in Musannah

MUSCAT: Omani sailors celebrated a series of strong performances at the Musannah Race Week international dinghy regatta, sealing their success in the concluding races on Wednesday. In a competitive fleet which featured 172 of the best emerging international youth sailors, Omani racers — many part of Oman Sail’s Omantel Youth Programme — won two of the regatta’s five categories, and earned podium places in two more.
Hussain al Jabri took three race wins on his way to a clear victory in the 27-strong Laser Radial fleet, finishing eight points ahead of Germany’s Roko Mohr with Bahraini sailor Daoud Abdullah a further point behind in third. Ibtisam al Salmi was the leading female Omani sailor, taking 16th place.
There was also a Sultanate victory in the Techno Plus windsurfer class, with Mohammed al Balushi taking a narrow two-point win ahead of Hungary’s Richard Geiger. Al Balushi’s teammate Abdullah al Sarhi completed the podium in third place in the 13-strong fleet.
Oman’s Ali al Sahri and Mohammed Ali Sahri had to give best in the Techno Under-15 category, finishing second and third respectively behind dominant Hungarian sailor Anna Morvai who won seven of the 11 races.
It was a second spot on the podium too for Abdulmalik al Hinai in the Laser 4.7 fleet. He put in a solid performance to split a strong contingent from the UAE, with Saif Saeed Almansoori winning the class and Ahmed Younes Alhammadi third.
With many of Oman’s best Optimist sailors away competing in the Monaco Optimist Team Race event, the door was left open for visiting international sailors in the large and highly competitive 78-strong fleet.
German 2017 national Optimist champion Mic Mohr — brother, incidentally, of Laser Radial racer Roko — led from the start and took the class win ahead of Italy’s Alessandro Cortese and Kuzey Kumlali of Turkey. The best result for an Omani sailor was achieved by Salim al Alawi who finished 33rd.
The success of the eighth edition of the Oman Sail organised Musannah Race Week was welcomed by Said Hamdoon al Harthi, GoH. He said: “What I have seen far exceeds my expectations. To bring all these young sailors from around the world and provide them a platform to learn and develop is an exemplary effort worthy of praise. It is very important that such a successful event grows even bigger and continue the journey”.
Oman Sail’s Youth Programme Manager, Mohsin al Busaidi, added: “Musannah Race Week is designed to give young sailors a balanced mix of training with high-profile experienced coaches and racing in perfect conditions in the waters of Musannah.
“Conditions during the four days of racing were not consistent in wind speed or currents, which posed good challenges for the sailors to try and overcome. We are happy that all the teams and sailors have enjoyed the activities.”
Musannah Race Week attracted some 60 visiting sailors — along with coaches and parents — to the world-class Omani facility at Musannah Sports City.
Before the three days of racing began the competitors were able to take advantage of top-level coaching sessions, some run by French racing star Sidney Gavignet, a long-time associate of the Oman Sail initiative. The pre-race training included on-the-water activities focussed on boat speed, boat handling, starts and race tactics, while shore-based sessions covered the racing rules, race strategies, sailing fitness, nutrition, and sports psychology.
The mix of coaching and racing was applauded by visiting team leaders. UAE Team Manager Khawla al Hamadi said: “The organisation of this event is outstanding in all aspects from the accommodation, to the training sessions and the races over the last four days. We are happy to have won the Laser 4.7 title and another podium place in the class. The event was also a great platform to meet the sailors and coaches from other countries and share experiences with them.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Omilayla Suhail, manager of the Pakistan team. He added: “It was a beautiful event and all our sailors enjoyed it and everything went perfectly smooth for us. We are a relatively new team so the best part for us was the three days of coaching sessions. We are already looking forward to next year”.