Oman getting serious about joining elite sailing nations

Updated: 2013-06-09 07:43

By Tang Zhe in Qingdao, Shandong province (China Daily)

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Oman getting serious about joining elite sailing nations


Based on current resources and quality of saliors, Team China still has a long way to go before becoming a force to be reckoned with in international sailing regattas. Provided to China Daily 

With the aim of developing Omani sailors, a national initiative called "Oman Sail" was launched by the country in 2008.

The project offers a wide range of ways for Omanis to learn about sailing, and maps a pathway for talented sailors to be competitive in international events.

"We have a very ambitious goal, which is to win an Olympic medal in 2024," said Donatella Donatelli, PR manager for Oman Sail.

According to Donatelli, more than 10,000 young Omanis have been through training programs in a range of youth, women's and community sailing camps in the past four years, and the project's long-term objective is to introduce 70,000 Omanis to the sport by 2020.

"We have three sailing schools so far, and we are planning to open eight more schools and these schools will be located all over the country, so we are giving the opportunities to all the Omanis living in every part of the country to sail," Donatelli said.

The project can already boast some success stories, including the two Omani crews of The Wave, Muscat Extreme 40 sailing teambowman Hashim Al Rashdi and headsail trimmer Musab Al Hadi.

The Wave, Muscat, champion of the Extreme Sailing Series in 2012, is leading the points standings this season after overwhelming Swiss team Alinghi in a tight race at the Qingdao stop last month.

Al Rashdi, 26, was a member of the 2012 series-winning crew, while Al Hadi, 24, is in his debut year on the series. The young Omanis are guided by British skipper Leigh McMillan, New Zealand tactician Ed Smyth and British mainsail trim Pete Greenhalgh.

"The Extreme series is just one of the international sailing events that we participate in. Last year we had two teams competing, The Wave, Muscat won the champion and the Oman Air finished second," Donatelli said.

"Our final objective is to make the team a whole Omani team. We are now using international professional sailors to instruct the Omanis. The results we have had so far are quite impressive. Hopefully in the near future, we will have a whole Omani crew."