MUSCAT: Junior sailors have seized the opportunity to demonstrate their potential at the Oman Sailing Championships being held in Sur.
Racing Optimist dinghies, 24 members of Oman Sail’s Youth Club took advantage of two days of top-level coaching and training before a further two days of racing.
The young sailors – all aged under-12 and many new to the sport – were making their first appearance at the championships, which are the highlight of Oman’s national youth racing season. They represented all four of Oman Sail’s schools – Al Mouj Muscat, Marina Bandar Al Rowdha, Sur and Mussanah.
After six races, the top-ranked sailor overall was Saleh Al Balushi, who took four wins to finish seven points ahead of Abdul Al Qasmi. With Faisal Al Adiwi third, all three sailors topping the leader board were from the Mussanah Sailing School.
The top three junior boys were Abdul Aziz Yousuf Al Balushi, Abdulrahman Adil Al Hadi and Saoud Talib Al Shaqsi. Taking the top three spots in the junior girls were Ghasslan Said Al Alwawi, Amnah Mohammed Al Mukhaini and Wesal Ahmed Said Al Balushi, who was also ranked the best youngest sailor overall.
The Youth Club prize-giving ceremony was hosted at the state-of-the-art Sur Sailing School, which is funded by Oman LNG. In attendance was guest of honour Captain Abdul Rahman Arshad, who is vice-president of the Asian Sailing Federation.
“It has been a great opportunity for the junior sailors in the Youth Club to take part in the training programme and then gain some experience on the race course,” said Youth Club Sailing Instructor Abdul Aziz Al Mashari.
“The coaches have been really impressed with the potential shown by our younger generation of sailors and they have been able to identify some new talent,” he added.
Top-level Optimist coaches at the championships included Didier Charvet, the former French National Coach, and the ex-Turkish National Coach Tamer Baslig.
Young members of the Omantel Youth Programme also benefitted from working with the international coaches. Five young guests from India joined this larger, more experienced group of 95 sailors who are aged up to 17 years old; together they developed their skills in the Laser 4.7 and Optimist classes. With the expert coaching sessions completed, the group has now embarked on four days of racing, which will conclude on August 8th. Racing at Sur starts daily at 6:30 am, to take advantage of the early morning breeze.
“The training and coaching around the Oman Sailing Championships is extremely valuable in preparing our sailors for upcoming World, Asian and African championships,” said Rashid Al Kindi, Oman Sail’s national sailing team manager.
“The championships have always provided a great learning opportunity and the chance for sailors to show their skills and abilities when racing. We are also really pleased that the younger sailors from the Youth Club have been able to benefit from taking part.”