The first ever sailing team to represent the Sultanate of Oman at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships has arrived in Dublin, Ireland, for a week of racing that will not only pit them against the best young sailors from around the globe but more importantly provide a fun highly competitive environment in which to improve their skills and hone expertise.
Eighteen year old skipper Mohammed Al Wahaibi and his crew Marwan Al Jabri will compete in the multihull SL16 catamaran class as the sole two-man Omani team at the 2012 Four Star Pizza ISAF Youth Worlds when racing gets underway from 14 July through to 20 July.
Both new to sailing, Al Wahaibi and Al Jabri, are fully aware of the steep learning curve they are on. Their only previous exposure to top end international competition was at the SL16 World Championships in France recently and they are eager to build on what they learnt there.
In Dublin Bay this week they will compete in a crack fleet of 15 teams, eight of whom they have already come up against at the World Championships in France. On the start line will be five of the six medallists from the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds, among them current world champions Rupert White and Tom Britz from Great Britain and the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds Champions Martin Lowy and Kim Andrade from Brazil.
Oman Sail's director of sailing development, Neil Coxon, says the Omani team's participation at this year's Youth Worlds is for experience alone. There is no pressure or expectation in terms of results.
"The main objective is for them to get a taste of a high profile international racing event, to meet other sailors, coaches and race officials and to get an understanding of what top level racing looks and feels like.
"They will be interacting with people from different countries and exposed to different cultures and we hope it will motivate them to keep trying hard to become better sailors. Last, but certainly not least, we believe their participation will help raise the standard and aspirations of the entire Oman youth team as word of their experience spreads,"
The young sailors, Al Wahaibi from Al Bustan near Muscat, and Al Jabri from Haramel, became hooked on sailing after taking part in sail training with Oman Sail. They soon adopted it as their sport and started sailing weekly in the Oman Sail legacy club.
In January this year they were among a group of sailors selected for a youth multihull racing team and started training with Oman Sail youth sailing co-ordinator, Said Al Arami. A month later they took part in the Gulf Regatta in Qatar, followed by Oman's Mussanah Race Week in March when they finished a credible fourth.
The two sailors continued training with Al Arami and more recently with Akram Al Wahaibi, a former multihull race team member who made the move to coaching. They were selected to represent Oman at the 2012 Four Star Pizza ISAF Youth Worlds after a further series of selection training camps in Mussanah, Oman.
Coach Al Wahaibi is with the team in Dublin along with Paul Wakelin, senior team multihull coach for Oman Sail,
"This is the first time an Omani team has entered the ISAF Youth Worlds and this time we are there for the experience. However our long term goal is to have teams in all the sailing disciplines competing at the event and to be protagonists both in terms of results and ethos,"