Muscat: Oman’s national youth sailing selectors were given a clear steer on the form and talent of the Sultanate’s most promising young sailors in the Omantel Youth Sailing Club following Oman Sail’s final ranking races of the season at Al Musannah last weekend. Under pressure to pick the National Optimist Squad to compete in the 2016 Optimist World Championships in Portugal starting on June 25, the selectors were able to put together a shortlist of 10 contenders for a Youth Squad training camp in Europe.
Only the top five will then carry the Sultanate’s national flag in Vilamoura, Portugal, and make a bid to put Oman firmly on the international youth sailing map.
Among the leading lights over the two day ranking event was Al Moatasem Hamood Al Farsi, a member of the Musannah Sailing School, who swept to victory in all five races completed in the Optimist class to claim overall victory by a significant margin over Jihad Salim Al Hasani in second place and Mohammed Khalid Al Qasmi in third.
Newcomer TalalYousuf Al Harami also caught the selectors eyes with a stand out performance of four top ten places to finish in 7th place overall.
In all there were 30 Optimist contenders but Al Moatasem was the best young sailor in Oman and a very exciting prospect, said Mohsin Al Busaidi, who heads up Oman Sail’s Youth Programme.
“He came second last year but as well as being a natural and outstanding talent, he enjoys competition as he demonstrated quite plainly this week,” Al Busaidi said. "He was a member of the youth squad who represented Oman to positive effect at the Optimist World Championships in Poland last year and continues to improve with every event. He is also a great example to the other youngsters.”
Commenting on the successful ranking races, Talal Said Al Mamari, Chief Executive Officer of Omantel said: “Our investment in the youth of Oman stems from our belief in the importance of building their capacities and unlocking their potential to succeed both personally and professionally."
"We are glad to see these young athletes eager to develop their skills and look for bigger challenges. These sailing ranking races provide just the right formula for budding talents to advance and evaluate their performance against their peers,” he added.
The races once more featured three classes with the Laser 4.7s attracting 10 entries, dominated once more by a single competitor Salim Al Alawi. With the four top Laser sailors away at a 29er training camp, Al Alawi grabbed his opportunity and impressed with his promise.
Seven Techno 293 windsurfers also locked horns with Abdul Majeed Al Hadhrami from Al Musannah winning for the second consecutive year followed by Abdullah Al Sarhi (Musannah) and Mukhtar Al Mujaini (Musannah).
The Almouj Muscat Sailing School once again ran away with the prize of top school with Sur, Marina Bandar Al Rowdha and Musannah all competing for honours with almost 50 children, aged between 9 and 17, showing off their skills, many of them for the first time at this event.
The ideal racing conditions produced some hard fought competition but infringements, in particular Rule 42 breaches, were at all time low as the on-the-water jury, officiating for only the second time, kept a tight rein on proceedings.
“These ranking races provide Oman Sail coaches and the national selectors with vital information about the progress of our youngsters and helps us with our Performance Pathway which is a roadmap of all the stages of progress from youth to elite level sailing,” added Al Busaidi.
“Our aim is to have Oman represented at the Olympic Games and an Omani to win a sailing medal in 2024. These ranking races are part and parcel of that journey.”