Oman Sail gears up for European season

MUSCAT: Oman Sail is gearing up for a demanding European season that includes the Rolex Fastnet and Middle Sea Races. Already, the Omani offshore squad has departed Muscat for Quiberon in France where they kicked off their cold weather training at the 2015 curtain-raiser, Spi Ouest France, last weekend. Training in 2015 will revolve mainly around raising fitness levels, building on the sailor’s power, strength and stamina and also on developing the non-sailing skills required for offshore racing, including electrics and engineering.

“We have two priorities this year,” explained team’s mentor Sidney Gavignet, French skipper of the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail. “One of the aims for the season is to make our Omani sailors bigger and tougher so they can handle heavier loads and keep working at full pace even when they are exhausted. “The second one is to make them more accomplished in technical skills like electronics and mechanics.

We want offshore sailors who can turn their hands to anything whether they are fixing heads, trimming sails, patching up holes, helming or doing running repairs. We have a big programme this year with a lot of miles to sail, but the goal is to take a big step up as individuals and work hard on looking after their bodies and boats.

By the end of the season, we want two or three guys who could sail on any professional boat anywhere. In 2015, development is more important than results.” Fahad al Hasni who is the longest standing Omani sailor on the MOD70 is set to take on more responsibility in 2015 starting with skipper duties on the Oman Sail M34 at Normandy Sailing Week from 10-14 June. He takes over from Gavignet who will move into a coaching role for this campaign.

Gavignet will return to the helm of the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail which he raced single-handedly in the Route du Rhum last November. It has had a major refit and will be launched in April ahead of a training session at the end of the month. After a sensational year setting new records, including the Round Britain and Ireland World Record, the flagship of the Sultanate of Oman will be used primarily as an offshore training platform for the Omani offshore squad in 2015, although promoting the country as a high-end tourist destination is also high on the agenda.

The programme starts with France’s season openers, the GP Guyader, Round Belle Ile and ARMEN regatta, then the MOD70 heads to Germany for Kiel Week where they aim to improve on their record time in last year’s Welcome Race while ashore a new “Visit Oman” tourism experience will be on display for Kiel Week visitors.

Oman Sail’s women’s team will compete again in Europe with the aim of learning through competition. A surge in interest in sailing among women in Oman has given selectors the opportunity to try out three new race team members, all of whom have come from other sports and are keen to learn fast.

“We saw in the recent EFG Sailing Arabia — The Tour just how much the women are improving and while these new

members have a lot to learn, we are excited that their sporting backgrounds have given them a good understanding of what it takes to win,” said Mohsin al Busaidi who heads up Oman Sail’s Women’s Sailing Programme.

SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER

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