Muscat: Talented Omani youngsters are to pit their skills against some of the best youth sailors from across Asia this week at the ASAF Youth Cup Final hosted in in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from today till Saturday. 14 promising young sailors from the “Omantel Youth Programme” will get their first taste of competition at the five-day regatta at the Al Hamra Marina and Yacht Club.
The sailors, aged between 12 and 16, are the product of a national initiative spearheaded by Oman Sail and supported by telecommunications company (Omantel) to rejuvenate Oman's rich maritime heritage and develop sailing talent to Olympic level. They have been handpicked from Oman Sail’s four sailing schools in Al Mouj, Al Mussanah, Sur and Bandar Al Rowdha. The youngsters, from the youth sailing programme's development squads, will be looking to follow in the footsteps of their counterparts from Oman's national youth team after their impressive medal haul at the GCC Sailing Championships last month.
The kids will compete in Optimist dinghies in the event, which will feature 200 children from seven nations. It will be the first time the children have sailed competitively in an international regatta andmarks the next stage in the development of their sailing careers.
The 14 selected sailors are Ahmed Al Oraimi, Khalfan Al Hassani, Sufyan Al Balushi, Salim Al Alawi, Al Waleed Al Oraimi, Issa Al Jahwari, Layth Al Hadhrami, Amur Al Lamki, Hussein Al Mansoori, Ali Al Sa'adi, Adnan Al Mabsali, Mohammed Al Hammadi, Hassan Al Owaisi and Saleem Al Alawi. They will be supported at the regatta by Oman Sail coaches Mohsin Al Busaidi, Ali Al Shuhaimi, Suleiman Al Wahaibi, Khalid Al Raimi and Sultan Al Zedjali.
The ASAF Youth Cup Final will start on 4th April with practice racing and the opening ceremony. Four days of racing will then follow, culminating on 8th April with the prize giving and closing ceremony when the Nations Cup will be awarded to the most successful ASAF member nation.
Mohsin Al Busaidi, Manager of the Omantel Youth Programme, said: “The ASAF Youth Cup Final will give these young sailors a real taste of what it is like to compete at an international regatta. We have selected them from our four national sailing schools for their talent and we firmly believe they can go on to enjoy the same success as our national team sailors. Racing at a high-level event like the ASAF Youth Cup Final is the next step in their path to becoming better sailors".
Mohammed Hassan Al Lawati, Event Manager at Omantel said: “Our country has a rich maritime history, the future of which lies in the hands of these young sailors. We are very proud to work alongside Oman Sail to support the young talent that Oman has to offer and reignite our history of sailing".
The ASAF Youth Cup Final will also see several Oman Sail coaches take senior roles as race management of the regatta. Omar al-Jabri, Nawaf al-Ghadani, Ahmed Al Qasmi, Faisal Al Qutati and Abdullaziz Al Mashari have been selected to join a host of international race professionals in the management of the race.