Competition increases in Oman as Optimist Team Racing title is decided

Muscat: The pace of competition at the 2019 Optimist Asian and Oceanian Championship in Oman increased on Friday as the 2019 Asian and Oceanian Team Racing title was decided in 32 hard-fought races.
A standalone competition in the middle of the showcase International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) event at Mussanah Sports City, the team racing competition featured 16 teams from the 21 nations gathered for the prestigious regional championship.
As teams were eliminated during successive rounds during an intensive day of racing, the final was between the former world champion Thai team and — to the delight of home supporters — the leading Omani team.
In a closely fought contest, Thailand won the best-of-three finale to take the 2019 Optimist Asian and Oceanian Team Racing Championship title after defeating teams from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey on the way to the decider. China was placed third in the competition.
“It was a good day on the water with back to back races and no problems,” said Koray Ezer, head of performance for event host and organiser, Oman Sail.
“For the team racing day, we had 16 teams taking part and the Oman team made it to the finals to take on Thailand, who are the best team here and one of the best in the world. The Oman team did incredibly well and won against Turkey, who were European champions in 2017, China, Singapore, Finland, and the second Thailand team to reach the final.
“The final was very tough of course against Thailand, and it was very close in the first race, very tactical, but Thailand went on win.”
And he added: “There is a great atmosphere here and all the coaches and the other teams greeted Oman and Thailand on the beach. It’s a great event with a total of 32 races today, it’s fantastic and we are really proud of Oman and that all the work done in the past few years is paying off.”
Meanwhile, racing for the individual Asian and Oceanian Championship title resumes on Saturday, with the 141 sailors competing divided into gold and silver fleets for the final two days of racing depending on their results in the first two days.
Young sailors from the Thailand team led by Panwa Boonnak held the top three spots at the championship’s half-way point, closely pursued by racers from Malaysia, Brazil, Singapore, Finland and Oman.
A total of 10 of Oman’s 16-strong team qualified for the gold fleet, including the members of the runner-up Team Racing squad Mohammed al Qasmi, Saleem al Alawi, Jihad al Hasani, Nibras al Awaisi and Hatem al Araimi. The large-scale regional event has also attracted entries from Bahrain, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the UAE and the USA.
Racing at the 2019 Asian and Oceanian Championship continues until Sunday 6 October.