Omantel youth sailors show potential at Asaf event in UAE

MUSCAT: Young Omani sailors have been praised after they reached and passed their performance targets while competing at the Asian Sailing Federation (Asaf) Youth Sailing Cup Finals event in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. Racing in the Laser 4.7 and Optimist classes the 15-strong Omantel youth team showed huge potential over four days of racing from April 3rd to 7th at the Al Hamra Marina and Yacht Club in Ras Al Khaimah against international competitors.
Abdulmalik al Hinai showed real speed and consistency to win the Laser 4.7 class by an impressive five-point margin. His Laser squad teammates Adnan al Mabsali, Salim al Alawi, Ahmed al Oraimi and Alla al Omrani also claimed top-10 overall results, while Albaraa al Nofali finished 12th in the competitive fleet.
However, the young Optimist development squad far exceeded their target of getting four sailors in the top half of the 37-strong international fleet. Nibras al Awaisi led the way to finish in sixth place, followed by Al Walid al Araimi, Salim Ali al Alawi and Mahmood Saif al Gharabi in 11th, 13th and 14th places respectively.
Layth al Hadhrami, Elyas al Fadhali and Osama al Zadjali added to the success story by also achieving top-half finishes coming 16th, 17th and 18th. Al Hassan al Jabri was also competitive in the fleet which included young sailors from the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, France, Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany and the UAE.
“It has been a really valuable event and the sailors have all done far better than the targets we set them,” said Mohsin al Busaidy, Oman Sail’s Youth Development Manager.
“There has been a high level of racing in both fleets, and it has been a great learning experience for the Oman Sail team as they improve their racing skills and knowledge of the rules. We have achieved good results and we are very happy with the performance overall.”
The sailors faced a range of different conditions in the course of the regatta, with breezy conditions at the start giving way to lighter but no less challenging winds towards the end.
“The winning sailor in the Optimist class finished in the top-10 at the Optimist Worlds, so there was some real ability there for our sailors to test themselves against,” added Al Busaidy.
“Our sailors showed they have the talent and skill to meet that challenge, and we have a great team with a lot of potential that we will all be working to develop as the season progresses.”
The UAE event was the third in the 2018 Asaf series, following on from regattas in India and Hong Kong. Both the Optimist and Laser squads will now be taking part in further intensive training and coaching leading to selection of the national teams.
There will also be a third ranking race event in Oman, after which a Laser squad of seven boys and one girl, and an Optimist squad of 12 boys and two girls, will be selected before the end of this month.
Once selected, the Optimist youth team will be focused on the IODA Optimist Worlds in Cyprus in August, with a place in the gold fleet the target, and then a top-10 spot at November’s IODA Asian event in November.
Similar goals will be set for the Laser team at June’s Asian Sailing Championships in Jakarta, the Asian Games in August at the same venue, and the Laser Worlds in Poland in July.
Windsurfing in Sicily
Meanwhile, Oman Sail’s windsurfers excelled themselves at the 2018 Techno293 Plus European Championships held at Mondello in Sicily.
Racing in the 39-strong silver fleet, Omar al Qartoubi and Mohammed Nabil al Balushi both took top-10 finishes, in 8th and 9th places, with teammate Ali al Omrani also showing good form to finish in 16th place in a top-class fleet.
“We have a great group of emerging windsurfing sailors and there is really good potential for the future,” said Sultan al Balushi, National Youth Windsurfer Coach.