Muscat: Young international sailors have celebrated their success at the conclusion of the ninth Mussanah Race Week regatta in Oman. The increasingly popular event at Mussanah Sports City attracted 125 sailors, aged from eight to 16 years-old, from a total of 21 countries.
Promising Thai sailor Weka Bhanubandh took top spot in the strong Optimist class ahead of his compatriot and teammate Bowonnan Chanram, with Oman’s Mohammed Al Qasmi in third.
Young sailors from Italy, Germany, Portugal and the UAE also took top-10 places. Norway’s Tobias Birkeland won the Laser Radial division with Faris Al Bakri from Qatar and the UAE’s Mohammed Alhammadi filling out the podium. Jean-Marc Gardette from the Seychelles posted a succession of first places to win the RSX class from Oman’s Abdulmajed Al Hadrami and Hammad Al Mujaini.
Meanwhile, local Omani sailors saw success in the Techno 293 windsurfer class, with Ali Al Sarhi and Mohammed Al Balushi finishing ahead of Nikola Stipcic from Croatia. And also making the most of familiarity with local conditions, Omani racers swept the board in the Laser 4.7 class, with Abdulmalik Al Hanai winning ahead of colleagues Almotassem Al Farsi and Alaa Al Omrani.
The racers took advantage of Oman’s ideal warm weather sailing conditions to take part in an intensive three-day pre-regatta coaching clinic before four days of racing in the Optimist, Laser, RSX and Techno 293 windsurfer classes.
Speaking at the closing ceremony David Graham, CEO of event organiser Oman Sail, told the many sailors, coaches and parents: “Since the very first Mussanah Race Week we have emphasised the importance of camaraderie between sailors because while the competitive racing is a major part of the event, at its heart this is a chance to learn from the coaches and from each other, and form bonds that will last throughout a career on the water and beyond.
“Over the course of the week, everyone will have had the chance to practice on the water and test themselves against their peers. Today we acknowledge the winners and recognise the progress made by everyone. The lessons learned here will be used in waters around the world and the new techniques taught this week will be invaluable in competition at every level.”
Many of the sailors taking part in Mussanah Race Week will be welcomed back to the same venue in September for the Optimist Asian Championships and Oceanian Championships, which will also be hosted and run by Oman Sail. Oman Sail’s event project manager Feras Asqul said: “The past week serves as ideal preparation for the championships later this year. We look forward to welcoming the returning sailors and to continue to grow the event as a platform for local and international sailors to learn, compete and gain valuable experience in the perfect sailing environment offered by Oman.”
The quality of the coaching was also highlighted by Rashid Al Kindi, Oman Sail’s national team manager. He said: “We pride ourselves on providing an event which offers world-class coaching to young sailors who take part in Mussanah Race Week. This year sailors have benefitted from the expert knowledge of Belgian Olympic Team Coach Xavi Carvalho and Slovenian National Coach Dragan Gasick.”