The Heart of Oman
The Heart of Oman
It was a long day in the sun, but we’ve officially made the transfer south to Muscat. We left our temporary home in at the Marina Bandar Al Rowdha in Mussanah at 8:30 (after a slightly frustrating wait for the fuel dock to open) and towed all 80 feet of Oman Air’s hulls three hours south to the regatta site. Charlie and I rode on the trampoline while Morgan and Joe drove the RIB, and Will coordinated the shoreside logistics of moving our containers with help from shore crew Tim, Halal, and Mohammed. Nasser, our bowman who lives in Muscat, met us at the venue. Besides a couple shallow spots, almost running out of gas, and being escorted away from the Sultan’s private waterway by the Coast Guard, it was a pretty low-key tow. We were happy to arrive.
Alinghi, ZouLou, and The Wave early this morning before departing Mussaneh.
In addition to being the capital of Oman, Muscat is home to Oman Sail’s new headquarters in the residential/marine development The Wave. Oman Sail is hosting the first event of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series here, as well as sponsoring Team Oman Air for the remainder of the circuit. After experiencing a week of Omani hospitality at their training facility in Mussanah and getting to know the locals, we are incredibly proud to be representing a program that is doing so much to advance our sport.
The 'shipyard' in Mussaneh. This set of containers, plus a few more, will act as a mobile workshop for the circuit across all 8 stops in 2012.
Founded in 2008, Oman Sail is an institute aimed towards reinvigorating the rich maritime heritage of the country with modern racing and training programs. The company’s purpose is five-fold: employment (job opportunities), employability (for their future graduates), sport, tourism, and sustainability. For such a young campaign, the diversity of initiatives is intimidating. The youth program, Oman Sail Academy, has multiple locations and trains young Omanis on the water, as well is in the gym and classroom. The range of equipment is diverse: from Lasers to F18s to windsurfers and more. By 2015, they will have opened seven different schools and introduced over 30,000 Omani children to the sport of sailing. On top of creating lifelong sailors, the program seeks to provide employment opportunity to its graduates, and imbue locals with more hirable skills. This is particularly important in a country where 54% of the population is age 16 or under. Women’s sailing also has a strong presence in the organization’s infrastructure, with instruction and racing, including an all-female offshore team currently competing in Sail Arabia—The Tour. Grand prix racing on professional circuits rounds out the program’s serious repertoire, with Farr 30s, Extreme 40s, and a 100-foot trimaran.
There really is no more comprehensive and vigorous approach to infusing local culture with a passion for the sea and sailboat racing. I’ll be damned if an Omani doesn’t win an Olympic medal in sailing during my lifetime. It’s exciting to be representing such a fast-growing program abroad, and both Team Oman Air and The Wave, Muscat are looking forward to sailing under the red, white and green flag in 2012. We’re wearing the Oman Sail logo with genuine pride.
The Omani flag emblazoned on a new gennaker.
While being based out of Marina Bandar Al Rowdha was good for our focus during training, we are excited to be in the city. This is our chance to absorb as much of the Omani culture and values as we can before taking those sentiments abroad to seven other countries. Exploration will have to wait at least another day, though. After eight hours in the sun and our first home-cooked meal in a week, nobody has much energy for anything besides backed-up emails from home and a badly re-dubbed version of Top Gun. It all starts over again tomorrow, as Saturday in Oman is the equivalent of Monday in the Western world. Three days until the first gun!
Charlie and I excited to show off the amazing and quick work of our boat builders Joe and Tim. Photo: Morgan Larson.