Legend Coutts heaps praise on Omani youngsters at Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman

Sports Saturday 27/February/2016 22:32 PM
By: Times News Service
Legend Coutts heaps praise on Omani youngsters at Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman

Muscat: Sir Russell Coutts, a five-time winner of the America’s Cup and CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority, heaped praise on youngsters from Oman Sail’s Youth Programme after watching them race off Muscat.
The national initiative is dedicated to inspiring young Omanis to take up sailing, and is central to Oman Sail’s mission of reigniting the country’s rich maritime heritage.
Since its launch in 2008 Oman Sail has introduced the sport of sailing to more than 20,000 Omanis through its programmes.
And on Saturday 30 of its most talented junior sailors took to the same waters that play host to the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event of 2016 to show off just how good they are.
Sir Russell made time in his packed schedule to watch the racing, in Optimist dinghies, before presenting the youngsters with medals at a special prize giving ceremony on the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series main stage in front of the Omani crowds that flocked to the Race Village at Almouj to take in the action.
Commending Oman Sail for its Youth Programme, backed by national telecomms company Omantel, the New Zealander said he hoped to one day see an Omani sailor winning gold at the Olympics or being picked for an America’s Cup team.
“I’m incredibly impressed with what Oman Sail and Omantel have achieved – it’s wonderful to see,” Sir Russell said.
“The Youth Programme is a wonderful initiative for these young sailors and to bring back the rich nautical heritage that Oman has.
“More than 20,000 young sailors have been put through the Youth Programme and that’s a fantastic achievement.”
“I had the chance to see these junior sailors racing this morning and I’ve got to say I was very impressed with the way they sailed and the skills they put on display.
“It’s my hope that we will see one of these young sailors go forward and win an Olympic gold medal and perhaps one day be at the helm or crewing an America’s Cup boat. I think that would be fantastic.”
David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail, added: “The Oman Sail Youth Programme is at the heart of what we do at Oman Sail. It was wonderful to see these children out on the water racing today. This has all happened because of Omantel and their continued investment in youth sailing.”
Talal Al Maamari, CEO of Omantel, said: “Our country has a rich maritime history but the sport of sailing is quite niche here, so for that reason we are happy to support organisations like Oman Sail to develop the young talent we have and reignite our history of sailing.”
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman is the first time the America’s Cup, sailing’s most prestigious trophy, has come to the Middle East. Six teams from Great Britain, the USA, France, Japan, New Zealand and Sweden made up of the world’s top sailors are competing in state-of-the-art, 45ft catamarans that ‘fly’ on hydrofoils.
Land Rover BAR ahead
Racing got underway at 1400 on the Sea of Oman in front of crowds of spectators at Almouj Race Village and Ben Ainslie and Jimmy Spithill had big recoveries to vault to the top of the leaderboard.
Ainslie and his team were the class of the field. After incurring a penalty for starting prematurely in the first race, he sailed back up the fleet to salvage a third place finish.
Then, two victories. And Land Rover BAR finished the day four points clear.
Ainslie said it was anything but easy in the light winds.
“These conditions make it very challenging for everyone on board,” he said. “You need a decent start and to go the right way, so it’s tough on the tacticians. And then the big Code Zero headsails make for hard work for everyone else. It’s a big day for the team.”
ORACLE TEAM USA appeared to be in jeopardy at several points during the afternoon. But when the points were tallied, Spithill had his team in second place.
Emirates Team New Zealand sped away to a ‘horizon job’ victory in the first race, but fell back into the fleet later in the afternoon. For skipper Glenn Ashby it was “great racing out there today,” he said. “It’s been so long since we all battled it out. It felt good. We had a great first race, but unfortunately we got bounced around a bit in the last one.”
SoftBank Team Japan skipper Dean Barker found himself in familiar territory. His team flashed some brilliance, but couldn’t hold on through a full race for a strong finish.
Artemis Racing tactician Iain Percy had to take solace from the good moments as the team didn’t get any breaks, ending the day equal points at the bottom of the table with Groupama Team France.
Adam Minoprio, sailing in his first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event on the helm of Groupama Team France said he needs to get better starts to earn better results at the finish.
Racing gets underway again on Sunday at Almouj from 2.00 p.m. The Race Village opens to the public at 11.00 and the prize-giving will be on the public stage just after 4.00 p.m.

Provisional Results:
Race 1:
Emirates Team NZ - 10 points
ORACLE TEAM USA - 9 points
Land Rover BAR - 8 points
Artemis Racing - 7 points
SoftBank Team Japan - 6 points
Groupama Team France - 5 points
Race 2:
Land Rover BAR - 10 points
SoftBank Team Japan - 9 points
Groupama Team France - 8 points
Emirates Team New Zealand - 7 points
ORACLE TEAM USA - 6 points
Artemis Racing - 5 points
Race 3:
Land Rover BAR - 10 points
ORACLE TEAM USA - 9 points
Artemis Racing - 8 points
Groupama Team France - 7 points
SoftBank Team Japan - 6 points
Emirates Team New Zealand - 5 points
Points after 3 races:
Land Rover BAR - 8, 10, 10 - 28 points
ORACLE TEAM USA - 9, 6, 9 - 24 points
Emirates Team NZ - 10, 7, 5 - 22 points
SoftBank Team Japan - 6, 9, 6 - 21 points
Artemis Racing - 7, 5, 8- 20 points
Groupama Team France - 5, 8, 7 - 20 points