Muscat: The painstaking and effective work at the heart of the Omantel Youth Programme has been on display over the last week with Oman Sail youngsters excelling at two European venues.
Racing at the internationally famous Kiel Week in Germany, Laser 4.7 sailors Salim Al Alawi and Marwan Al Jabri both finished in the top-10 against a 76-strong world class fleet, while Adnan Al Mabsali distinguished himself by topping the table in the silver fleet.
At the same time in Quiberon, France, young windsurfers and Optimist sailors took part in 10 days of intensive training and practice racing to win selection for their upcoming world championships.
The talented youngsters at each event, aged from 12 to 17, have emerged from the national initiative led by Oman Sail with the sponsorship support of telecom giant Omantel. All have been selected from Oman Sail’s schools at Almouj, Al Musannah, Marina Bander Al Rowdha and Sur.
In Kiel, Al Alawi took six top-10 finishes on his way to sixth place overall, including a third place podium finish in the final race in the gold fleet. Finishing just a place behind overall in seventh, Al Jabri was equally impressive, notably fighting back from a start which saw him down in 22nd place at one point to finish seventh in the last race.
Al Mabsali finished his regatta in style to lead the silver fleet standings with a 4-2-4 scoreline in his final three races.
“The team did great work and stayed focused the whole time,” said AbdulAziz Al Shidi, Youth Pathway Coach at Oman Sail. “They improved throughout the regatta and performed well. Salim, Marwan and Adnan have a good spirit, they kept fighting in every race and they never gave up even if they had a bad race.”
Meanwhile, the windsurfer and Opi sailors were based at the French National Sailing School in Quiberon, taking advantage of in-depth coaching and the longer European days for intensive on-the-water training.
For the windsurfers in particular the training camp was of special value as the Under-19 world championship will be held at the same venue in mid-July. After detailed assessment Mukhtar Al Mujaini, Abdullah Al Sarhi and Ali Al Omrani were selected for the under-19 squad.
Also next month, the French port of Lorient will host the under-17 and under-15 windsurfing European championships. Al Sarhi and Al Omrani, both 15, will also both feature in the U17 squad where they will be joined by Omar Al Omrani and Usama Al Breiki. Mohammed Al Balushi and Ali Al Sarhi were both selected for the U15 team.
In what is a busy July for the young sailors on the Omantel Youth Programme, the 2017 Optimist World Championship is being held at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Thailand, where competitors can expect to find sea and wind conditions similar to Quiberon.
The selected Optimist Worlds squad is: Samiha Al Riyami, Mohammed Al Qasmi, Mohammed Al Alawi, Al Mutasim Al Farsi and Alla Al Omrani.
“The training camp has been a very important one for the whole team, and a great training and team-building experience ahead of the different world and European championships,” said Koray Ezer, Oman Sail’s Head of Performance.
“I have seen a real change over the last 10 days. Bringing all the sailors together from the different Oman Sail schools has allowed them to motivate each other, and there has been a healthy competition between them which has challenged them all to improve and put the hours in out on the water.”
And he also highlighted the presence at the training camp of Waleed Al Kindi, Oman’s leading windsurfer who has 2020 Olympic qualification in his sights.
“He added great value to the training camp and was happy to share his knowledge and his experience,” said Ezer. “He is a great resource and a great example for the youth sailors.”