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Oman leads the way in Middle East with region's first para-sailing programme

by Morgan Kasmarik 3 Dec 10:18 PST
Oman Sail launches para-sailing programme SailFree in Muscat © Oman Sail

Oman Sail, BP Oman and Oman Paralympic Committee have come together to launch the region's first para-sailing programme, SailFree, which is designed to introduce people with a physical impairment to the sport of sailing.

The Oman Sail headquarters in Muscat's Al Mouj Marina was the setting for the launch, which was attended by Her Highness Al Sayyida Hujaijah bint Jaifer Al Said, Chairperson of the Association for the Welfare of Handicapped Children, Eng. Yousuf Al Ojaili, BP Oman President, Dr. Mansoor Sultan Al Tauqi, President of Oman Paralympic Committee and David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail LLC as well as senior executives from BP Oman and Oman Sail.

Her Highness Sayyida Hujaijah Al Said said: "Thank you to BP Oman, Oman Sail, and Oman Paralympic Committee for having the vision of SailFree, a programme that will give our youth freedom and new opportunity. I look forward to closely following its success."

Following the announcement, World Sailing President Kim Anderson said: "SailFree is important because our sport includes all people. We know from para-sailing around the world that our sport is able to accommodate most physical impairments and creates opportunities for para-sailors to go out in the world and feel free

"Para-sailing will be in a good hand with Oman Sail because they have good facilities, they have the knowledge, and they have also shown that they are sustainable in the long term. Oman Sail is something to be proud of not only in Oman, but around the world."

SailFree is part of BP Oman's social investment programmes, and follows on from a number of joint projects, including an ongoing long-term programme which develops employability skills for undergraduate students.

BP Oman President, Eng. Yousuf Al Ojaili said: "Investing in people has been a key part of BP Oman's work for several years. The SailFree programme being run in partnership with Oman Sail and Oman Paralympic Committee is a further demonstration of that commitment to the communities in which we work and live."

He added: "Sport, and sailing in particular has always been effective in helping to develop personal potential, and we are very pleased to play our part with the Sail Free programme. The programme teaches practical and theory techniques of sailing. Through this programme we also provide the required equipment and sports tools for sailing training for the physically impaired and carrying out training the trainer mentorship with the aim to address the targeted category. This programme reflects diversity and inclusion which are key values in BP."

Over the next two months, 105 men and women from different levels of physical impairment that meet the Paralympic movement classification will be selected from across the Sultanate to take part in one of three events in Mussanah and Sur. After the final event in January 2020, a group of 30 will be selected to progress to the second stage of the programme. A national team will be formed, and the sailors will represent Oman in international regattas.

Under the guidance of the Oman Paralympic Committee, two of Oman Sail's four sailing schools, the centres in Al Mouj and Sur, will be outfitted to host and train the para-sailors, with the athletes to use the highly-adaptable and specifically designed RS Venture Connect SCS sailing dinghy. The boat can be quickly configured to suit sailors with a wide range of physical impairments and have been adopted by World Sailing for the Paralympic double-handed class.

Oman Sail CEO David Graham said: "Oman Sail already has a close working relationship and a shared vision of community involvement with BP Oman, so we are delighted to embark on this new joint venture which will open the door to sailing for a new group of sailors.

"Our Omani instructors are incredibly motivated by this project and we look forward to working closely with the Oman Paralympic Committee to have an Omani team in the 2022 Para Sailing World Championships, which the country will be proud of."

Dr. Mansoor Sultan Al Tauqi, President of Oman Paralympic Committee, said: "The launch of this programme is a great and historic moment for the country. SailFree will be a great addition to the sporting landscape in Oman and for people with physical impairment. My thanks to Oman Sail and BP Oman for this initiative. The programme will help young Omani people realise their sailing dreams. I look forward to seeing them represent the Sultanate both regionally and around the world."

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