Mussanah Race Week - Oman’s annual dinghy regatta – got underway with a light wind start, making it particularly challenging for the competitors, with 6-8kts of breeze and small chop, their focus and concentration was continually being tested, leaving them with no room for error.
Laser class at the 2013 Mussanah Race Week
After a tricky first two races Oman Sail’s very own F18 sailors Musab Al Hadi and Ahmed Al Balushi put together a winning plan and secured firsts in both the third and fourth races, but still couldn’t snatch the overall lead by French pair Gurven Bontemp and Benjamin Amiot who won the first two races of the day. Musab comments: 'It was a pretty good day, after a bad start, we decided to push hard and our plan came together, it’s great that we finished the day in the second place and we’re looking forward to racing tomorrow.' It has been a particularly busy month for Musab, as he has just come from sailing on board The Wave, Muscat during the inaugural leg of the Extreme Sailing Series 2013 in Muscat.
For the F18 class, the conditions were perfect, with them occasionally able to fly one hull, some of the French competitors were particularly relieved to be sailing in the warm waters of Oman, as back home in Europe there is snow on the ground.
There was close racing at the front of the Laser Standard fleet, with ex Oman Air (Extreme 40) sailor Andy Maloney dominating the first two races, and Tom Burton, currently ranked number one in the world in the Laser Standard, winning races three and four.
Burton comments: 'The conditions were pretty shifty, and the course was tough to read, it was all about the pre-start, and winning the start proved crucial, up the beat it was about committing to one side of the course. Good to see some pretty strong competition out here.'
In the Radial class, we saw the Singapore team dominating the first two races, whilst Volvo Ocean sailor Adel Khalid of Abu Dhabi, sat in fourth place for the first lap of the third race, he made an impressive come back on the final downwind leg to claim first position. Adel comments: 'I made the gains by surfing the waves downwind. It was tough for me because I am a keelboat sailor, and no used to radials, also I’m 82kg, much heavier than the Singapore team, who are really good and have clearly practiced a lot harder than me, so I have to work really hard. Hopefully the wind will pick up over the next few days.' Adel was the Emarati crew member on board Team Abu Dhabi in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012, and he is set to sail in the 2014 round the world race as well.
Radial Sailor, Jevyn Ong of Singapore concludes the first day in the top of the Radial leader board, and on the RSX Windsurf course the competitors were forced to work extra hard, with light winds, they must rely on strength and fitness to get them round the course. Adam Holm of Sweden, winner of all of today’s races commented: 'I feel like I have just run a marathon!' By the end of the day they were able to do some railing, and they are hoping for breezier conditions tomorrow.
On Thursday and Friday, we will see the number of competitors grow, as the Optimist and Q’ba fleet take to the water. In the lead up to their race days, world renowned Optimist coach Chris Atkins will be putting the young sailors through their paces. Youth sailors are representing six different nations including Oman. Racing starts at 11am each day, and with competition being so close, we’re guaranteed a spectacle until the very end, with the final day of racing on Saturday 16th March.
This is the third edition of Mussanah Race Week, and it appears to be on the right course to becoming one of the world’s most prominent dinghy regattas. With Mussanah’s ability to offer fantastic sailing conditions; warm water and air temperatures and a good sea breeze, this event continues to grow from strength to strength. Today paid testament to this as the 92 competitors put on an impressive display of their skills, whilst racing hard for Mussanah’s glory.
Events director Issa Al Ismaili, says Oman Sail aims to have Mussanah Race Week recognized as an International Sailing Federation (ISAF) World Cup event: 'It is our aim to run the event with such international standard and gain recognition as a top dinghy event.'
Antonio La Madrid- ISAF Sailing World Cup Manager is also in Mussanah Race Week for a site visit to see the venue that will be hosting the ISAF Youth Worlds 2016 that the Sultanate won the bidding rights last year. ' It’s a fantastic venue, we’re very impressed with it, we have everything we need in order for the event to work well, one advantage is the accommodation is at the venue, we’re also very happy with the race management team, and I’m confident that this event will be recognised as it’s being run in a professional way.'
Recognition from ISAF officials cements the fact that the Laser World Championships, which will be held in Mussanah from November 2013- January 2014, are sure to be a success. It is the combination of perfect conditions, idyllic location and professional committee that will mean the 1,000 visiting sailors will participate in a unique, first class event.
Mussanah Race Week website