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23 November 2005, 11:56 am
Young UAE Star Aims To Build On Winning Start
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Jumeirah Regatta 2005
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Omar SHAHEEN, one of the rising stars of sailing in the UAE, aims to build in his winning start to a new title campaign when the 2005 Jumeirah Regatta gets underway tomorrow in Dubai, UAE. After dominating the Optimist class for the last four years, SHAHEEN has moved up to the Laser 4.7 senior grade and he made a flying start to the 2005-2006 UAE National Championships with victory in last weekend's first of eight rounds.
Having passed that opening test, he faces another stern examination when he takes his place in a line up of more than 300 competitors assembling at Jumeirah Beach Hotel for the two day second round of the national series which starts at 1400 hours local time tomorrow.

Sponsored by Jumeirah, the Dubai based luxury hospitality group, the event provides valuable high level competitive experience for much of the UAE's top young sailing talent, including most of the members of the national team currently being prepared for next year's Asian Games in Doha.

SHAHEEN is already in the record books as the first and youngest UAE competitor to take part in the Optimist World Championship following his participation in the 2000 event in Spain when still only nine years old.

The Jumeirah Regatta line up includes challengers from Jebel Ali Sailing Club, Dubai International Marine Club, Emirates Heritage Club Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Sailing Club and last weekend's first round hosts, Dubai Offshore Sailing Club.

'It's tremendously encouraging to see so much young sailing talent emerging in the UAE, and we're very happy to be playing our part in the sport's development here,' said Gerald LAWLESS, Chief Executive Officer for Jumeirah, and an active member of Jebel Ali Sailing Club which hosts two rounds of the UAE series in January and March.

One of the UAE team members, DIMC's Jasim EHAB, continues the defence of his national Laser 4.7 Junior title tomorrow and he will be looking to improve on his fourth place in the opening round behind Alexa SOAR, Oskar CANEBORG and Justin WALSH.

In the Laser standard class, Fergus ALLAN will be hoping to add to his first round victory ahead of Richard WOOD, Roeland FRENSSENS and Josie WALSH, while Naser AL MARZOUAI goes for a second successive Laser Radial win after edging out Ben BUTLER, Ben KILSBY and Mohammed ATIQ last weekend.

Competition will be just as keen in the Optimists, with 2004 UAE National Champion Taher ADIL TAHER again in contention after taking runner's up spot in the opening round behind Oliver GROGONO.

As last year's champion, Hamed KHALID, is now training with the UAE match racing team, the Optimists senior title is up for grabs, and Abdul Aziz AL OBAIDLI tops the standings after round one ahead of Khalifa Awadh AL KAABI and Hakim BIN DASMAL.

Andrew BYWATER enjoyed a flying start to the Optimist cadet title race last weekend but he could come under pressure in the Jumeirah Regatta from Hamood AL ZAIDI, Freddie GROGONO, Alexander SLATTER and Fraser CHRISTENSEN, his nearest challenges in round one.

The Jumeirah Regatta brings toppers into the series for the first time, with Robyn SMITH the early pace setter from DOSC club mate Marcus O'CONNELL. Also in action are standard sails, double-handers, and cruisers which do not feature in the national series.

Tony Lewis. Image, Omar SHAHEEN has had a flying start to the season:© Jumeirah Regatta
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