Not content with making huge waves in the sailing world, mainly through the achievements of their Extreme Sailing Team, Oman Sail has turned its hand, successfully one would have to say, to the wider business of Event Management.
Originally established in 2008, with the objectives of revitalizing the Sultanate’s rich maritime heritage, providing opportunities for young Omanis, and to promote Oman around the world, they are clearly achieving their objectives. Their list of organisational ‘firsts’ is impressive, their diversity in the workplace and Omanisation emphatic, and their growing international profile a validation of their methods.
Their Al Mouj headquarters has now become a mecca for the global sailing fraternity, taking advantage of the amazing sailing conditions on offer all year round. The catalyst for their extreme (no pun intended) ascendancy to the peak of the Extreme Sailing Series has been the impeccable record of the Oman-based entity. Oman Sail’s ‘Masirah’ was the first to strike gold in 2009, winning with Peter Cumming (UK) at the helm. Another Brit, Paul Campbell-James helmed the 2010 winner, ‘The Wave Muscat,’ and after the Italian’s ‘Luna Rossa’ won in 2011, ‘The Wave Muscat,’ under Leigh MacMillan took their title back in 2012, the first of three titles within four years.
However, it’s off the water that Oman Sail is proving itself in the white hot world of event management garnering positive comment from participants, spectators, media and sponsors with the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon, the Haute Route Oman, and Oman by UTMB. One of the reasons their management has captured the imagination has been the manner in which they have embraced the challenges of working in diverse environments, with a matter-of-factness, that belies the challenges they must have faced, particularly the latter event.
Just thinking about creating tracks and trails where there are mostly none in existence, through farmlands, old villages, wadis, up and across cliffs and steep rock faces, through streams, waterfalls and aflaj, over numerous different terrains, during the day and night, men and women, creating checkpoints and medical testing facilities, providing emergency services in case (God forbid) they are needed, and extraction protocols for those who cannot finish and must be repatriated.
Merchandising, promotions, facilities for support staff, volunteers, management, and a significant international media presence for whom internet and post-production facilities more than a table and chairs are primary requirements. Entertainment and hosting of VIPs and sponsors, transport from accommodation to the start points, and catering, the list goes on and on.
Yet having observed the process in action, I would have to say that there is very assured sense of what each and every individual in the Oman Sail team is responsible for, who they turn to for support, and who to engage with when things go ‘pear shaped,’ which has actually not happened very much. One of the reasons I think, and I speak from the position of someone who is an observer rather than having discussed this with anyone, is the openness with which they communicate.
It means that within their structure everyone is contributing on the basis that they are all part of a team, and I can never forget the definition I heard of a winning team when I heard Canterbury, New Zealand coach and a former All Black rugby player speak on national television after his team won a Championship Final saying, “It’s all about the we, not the me, and there’s no ‘I’ in team’’.
Open dialogue means you are free to suggest without insistence, to refuse without causing offence, to deflect without embarrassment, and most significantly to make mistakes without punishment, which all means that when things do, which they will one day, go ‘belly-up,’ that the initial reaction is not of recrimination but repair, to fix it, and move on. It might not be quite so easy when the wash-up meeting comes around, but that’s another story for another day, another time, another place, another solution.