Boosting sailing access and education efforts rewarded

A decade of success by Oman Sail to develop sailing in the Middle Eastern country has been recognised by the global sailing community, with the organisation receiving the 2019 World Sailing President’s Development Award.

The award is described as being “a clear testament to the achievements of Oman Sail over the last 10 years, and its mission to make the sport of sailing accessible, educational, and a source of immense national pride.”

In 2009, Oman Sail started the process of bringing this vision to life and achieving some extraordinary achievements. Oman Sail has continually propelled the Sultanate into the yachting limelight, whether it be from hosting high-profile global events such as the America’s Cup World Series and the Windsurf World Championships, participating in the Route de Rhum and Extreme Sailing Series, or providing opportunities for local talent.

In Oman Sail’s inaugural year, Mohsin Al Busaidi became the first Omani to circumnavigate the globe, while 2020 could see the first Omanis to compete on the Olympic stage, with 49er pair Musab Al Hadi and Waleed Al Kindi campaigning for selection in March.

CEO David Graham received the award on behalf of Oman Sail and said: “This award is a result of a collective effort from teams both on and off the water. I would like to thank the government of Oman, in particular the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Sport, for the unwavering support to Oman Sail over the past decade.

“The future of sailing in Oman looks exceptionally bright,” he added. “As we cheer on Musab and Waleed as they strive for Olympic selection, we also applaud the hundreds of school children who are out on the water every week, learning more about the sport we love at the four sailing schools which now exist across Oman. The sailing schools are run by Omanis, with the development of Omani nationals who are incredibly competent in the sailing and commercial aspects, a key cornerstone of what Oman Sail has set out to achieve.

“Just in the past four weeks we have seen young athletes from all four of Oman Sail’s sailing schools compete strongly on the world stage. Six members of the team finished in the top 25 overall and came away with a silver medal in the Team Racing at the IODA 2019 Optimist Asian and Oceanian Championship; the Laser and Optimist teams collected a gold, two silvers, and a bronze at the Abu Dhabi Open Regatta; while the squad won three classes and achieved seven podiums at the highly competitive Arab Sailing Championship in Egypt.

“Oman Sail offers equal-opportunities and we are proud to have the only all-women’s team in the GCC region. After their strong performance at this year’s Tour Voile, I look forward to seeing what they accomplish in future events, including next year’s EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour.”

Her Excellency Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism of Oman and Chairwoman of Oman Sail, said: “The vision of Oman Sail is, and always has been, to reinstate the maritime eminence of the Sultanate of Oman. It’s an honour to receive such an accolade, and I congratulate David and the team.”