Mussanah Race Week 2018 has got underway with a total of 172 of the best young international sailors in fierce competition at Mussanah Sports City. In early races several Omani sailors – many part of the Omantel Youth Programme – were demonstrating their emerging talent in the five highly competitive classes.

Mohamed Al Balushi was leading the Techno Plus fleet at the end of the second day, with Abdullah Al Sahri in third after leading the fleet in the opening day. Meanwhile, Abdulmalik Al Hinai was third in the Laser 4.7 class, hard on the heels of the two leading sailors from the UAE. In the Laser Radial, Omani sailor HUSSAIN AL JABRI is leading the fleet of 28 sailors.

The Optimist fleet – the largest class with 94 sailors entered – was led by Italian racer Alessandro Cortese after five races in two days. The leading Omani sailor in the second day stages was Salim Ali Al Alawi in 30th place, though several of Oman’s best Optimist sailors are away racing in Monaco.

Before racing the competitors were able to take advantage of top-level coaching and workshop sessions, some of the supervised by Mohsin Al Busaidi, Oman Sail Youth Programme Manager.

“It is nice to see young sailors who are motivated and it is nice to see the mix of countries as well,” said Mohsin. “In the briefings we had sailors from several countries, and the more experienced guys were helping out the younger ones, and it was good to have been involved in that.

“I always like to share experience so it is very interesting. Oman Sail want to rekindle sailing in Oman and that is starting with the kids, they are the real light in the candle you could say.

“There are some good sailors and some beginners, and some of the best Omanis are in Monaco at the moment. The coaches are very important and they help get the right dynamic and making sure they are going in the right direction.”

The many Omani sailors will be hoping to match their strong performance in 2017 when they won four gold medals in the seven category finals.

Pre-race training included a focus on boat speed, boat handling, starts and race tactics, while shore-based sessions covered the racing rules, sail fitness, nutrition, race strategy, and sports psychology.

The eighth edition of Mussanah Race Week has attracted some 60 visiting sailors – along with coaches and parents – to the world-class Omani facility at Mussanah Sports City. Among the foreign entries are sailors from Hungary, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, the UAE, Poland, Portugal, Thailand and Turkey.

On the evening before racing started the sailors, coaches and accompanying parents, were invited to attend a themed Arabic Nights event to experience first-hand Omani hospitality and traditions.

Mussanah Sports City, meanwhile, has a growing international reputation for hosting top-line events, having held the 2013 Laser World Championship and 2015 Laser Radial World Championship.