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30 March 2006, 11:45 am
Young UAE Sailing Stars Gear Up
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ISAF Nations Cup 2006
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The cream of the UAE's young sailing talent are being prepared for a major effort next week to win a place in the Grand Final of the ISAF Nations Cup. Over the weekend 20 members of the UAE sailing team will undergo intensive training at Dubai International Marine Club in readiness for the ISAF Grade 2 Regional Final for Asia, which gets underway next Monday.
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On Sunday Italian coach Raymondo TONELLI will select the ten current top performers to make up the two five man crews which will represent the UAE in the first of eight qualifiers being staged around the world over the next four months.

New Asian champions India will start as the firm favourites at Dubai International Marine Club to book their passage through to September's ISAF Grade 1 Grand Final at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Ireland.

Aiming To Upset The Odds

But the two UAE teams will be hoping to upset the odds, and one of them could join the defending men's and women's champions from South Africa and Australia and the rest of the regional qualifiers to contest the title of the world's top match racing nation.

'The ten selected for the Nations Cup qualifier will be those who have made the best impression in the build up to the event,' said Sid BENSALAH, sailing director at Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC). 'Raymondo will be putting them through their paces over the weekend and it will be up to each individual to impress. Selection will not be based on previous records alone.'

The 20 members of the UAE squad are all products of the youth sailing programme launched six years ago by Dubai International Marine Club.

They are competing for places in the five man team to represent the UAE in the match racing event at the Doha Asian Games in Qatar in December, and the Nations Cup is providing some valuable extra competitive experience.

The Principle Contenders

The leading candidates for selection next week include two sets of brothers, Omar and Ahmed SHAHEEN, and Adel and Yousef KHALID, each of whom have excelled in the Optimist and Laser before moving up to match racing.

Ahmed SHAHEEN is already in the record books as the first UAE competitor to contest the Optimist World Championship, while Adel KHALED has been the UAE's dominant performer in the Laser for the previous two years.

While Bahrain, Qatar, Greece and South Africa will not now be represented next week, Turkey's hopes will be carried by a crew skippered by Orkun SOYER. Cedric LE REST (UAE) leads another DIMC crew while Dubai Offshore Sailing Club's Bekky BRITTON (UAE) skippers an all lady crew and Christopher GRAHAM (UAE) skippers another team representing the UAE Marine Sports Federation.

From Monday, teams will compete in a daily round robin series of match races aboard four of the V1/Lutra-30 Sport Boats launched during the ISAF Grade 3 Dubai Match Race in January. The final to decide the Dubai qualifiers takes place on Sunday week.

For a complete list of all the news from the ISAF Nations Cup 2006 CLICK HERE.
Tony LEWIS. Image, Two UAE teams will be battling through a round robin series of match races for a place in the Grand Final of the ISAF Nations Cup:© Tony LEWIS
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