Muscat: Oman’s status as host to top international sailing championships has been cemented with the addition of the inaugural GC32 Championships to its roster of world class events. One of the fastest growing classes in world sailing, the GC32 foiling catamaran has enjoyed a surge of activity in the past two years with a fleet of around 25 boats now being campaigned on international racing circuits such as the GC32 Racing Tour and the Extreme Sailing Series.
For the first time, the leading contenders from both circuits will gather in Muscat from February 27 to March 5 to compete for the inaugural championship title with a total of 12 different teams from around the world confirmed as official entries.
The event will also serve as a warm up for the opening Extreme Sailing Series event of 2017, which will be held on the same Al Mouj race course in Muscat a few days later from 8-11 March.
“We wanted to get close to the ESS event so we could combine and unite the two fleets and having an event to kick off the 2017 season is very exciting,” said Christian Scherrer, manager of the GC32 Class and co-organiser of the championship with Extreme Sailing Series organisers OC Sport.
“We are hoping for some nice breeze and flat waters which are all conditions the GC32 is best suited to so expect to put on a good show for the people of Muscat.
“And of course, with the cold and freezing February weather in Europe, we hope the warm sunny conditions in Oman will prove attractive. With the support of Oman Sail and some nice warm weather, we are looking forward to a good championships which we hope will be the first of many.”
The GC32 Championship is the latest international sailing event to be hosted by Oman Sail, which actively promotes Oman as a world class host venue for high profile international events.
Since being established in 2008, Oman Sail has worked hard to attract events to the Sultanate and now regularly welcomes the RC44 and Extreme Sailing Series racing fleets to its shores for a Muscat meet.
In addition, the International Laser Class Association has staged a succession of world championships at Oman Sail’s sailing centre at Mussanah Sports City with the Laser Standard Men’s World Championships, Laser Masters’ World Championship and the Laser Radial Youth World Championships staged there to great acclaim in 2013 and the Laser Radial Women Worlds and the RS:X Windsurfing Worlds held in the same venue two years later.
In 2016 the Sultanate made history by hosting the hugely successful Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman, becoming the first country in the Middle East to welcome America’s Cup racing to its shores.
Oman Sail has also created EFG Sailing Arabia-The Tour, a unique race around the coasts of the Arabian Gulf countries, and Mussanah Race Week, which is rapidly gaining ground as a training and competition platform for the world’s best youth sailors.
“We are delighted to be hosting the GC32 Championships and look forward to welcoming the fleet to Muscat,” said Salma Al Hashmi, Chief Marketing Officer Oman Sail.
“Hosting these high-profile sailing events is a sure fire way of gaining worldwide exposure for our beautiful country and sailing audiences have been shown to be active travellers seeking new adventures which is great news for our economic future.
“The organisation of these events is wide-ranging so it is also invaluable to have our Omani staff working with experts from outside the region to gain skills and experience which they can use to further boost our tourism industry.”
The GC32 Championships take place from February 27 to March 5 at Al Mouj in Muscat.