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R E I G N I T I N G M A R I T I M E H E R I T A G E 2 N D E D I T I O N J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 0

H E R I T A G E 2nd E D IT IO N

© Oman Sail

© Ingmar Jense

2010 AND BEYOND 65

Foreword by Her Excellency Dr. Rajiha bint Abdulameer bin Ali Minister of Tourism and Chairman of Oman Sail LLC

© Mark Covell

The Clipper Round the World Race

© Ingmar Jense

Tour de France à la Voile

Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race

Route Du Rhum 2

© JMLiot

Extreme Sailing Series Asia and Europe

© B.Stichelbaut

AHLAN WA SAHLAN to this latest edition of the Oman Sail campaign magazine. The overarching theme of the campaign is reigniting the Sultanate’s rich and varied maritime heritage. It is a journey from the past, through the present and into a challenging future. Above all it is a story of achievement: young Omanis, male and female are now learning to sail. Mohsin al Busaidi, an Omani, has become the first Arab to sail non-stop around the world, starting and finishing in Muscat. We have achieved a whole series of first places at the highest reaches of competitive sailing on the Extreme 40 circuit: 1st in the Round the Island Race in the United Kingdom, 1st in the iShares Cup in Europe and 1st place in the first two events of the new Asian Extreme Sailing Series in Hong Kong and Singapore leading, we hope, to an overall win to be decided in February in Muscat. The assembly of a 105-foot giant trimaran in our southernmost port of Salalah is another massive milestone for Oman. Named Majan, after the ancient name for Oman, this trimaran has already conducted her maiden voyage around the Arabian Gulf and in February sets out to establish a new route in the Indian Ocean. The team has also achieved success in dinghies in both national and international competitions. Oman Sail is providing professional support to the Jewel of Muscat, a replica 9th Century hand sewn ship that has been built in Muscat, clearly demonstrating how the past, present and future are intertwined throughout the project. Ahmed Al Maamari and Abdullah Al Busaidi are even now facing the extreme challenges of the world’s oceans in the demanding Clipper Round the World Race and will return in July after 10 months of sailing. The story so far is of a string of remarkable successes. The future holds even more exciting challenges to be faced by Omanis for the Sultanate, none more so than the target of teaching 30,000 Omanis to sail by the end of 2015. In these pages we tell a story of achievement and challenges that have already won international recognition and respect. I believe that these should be a source of deep pride for all Omanis and, once again, reflect the wise leadership and vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Please reflect for a moment on the effort, dedication and courage demonstrated by Omanis illustrated in this magazine. I trust you will be as impressed as I am in the ambition and fortitude displayed and share these national achievements with pride.

Dinghy Programme


CONTENTS 04 06 08 10 14 18 23 24 28

REFLECTIONS OF OMAN SAIL On full screen THE OMAN SAIL STORY SO FAR MOHSIN’S NON-STOP ROUND THE WORLD JOURNEY MUSANDAM’S EPIC ROUND THE WORLD JOURNEY From the logbook of Mohsin Al Busaidi WINNING THE ISHARES CUP Oman Sail’s colours fly at the highest international level MAJAN, OMAN SAIL’S NEW FLAGSHIP Defining Modern Oman PROFILE: MOHAMMED AL GHAILANI MAJAN’S TOUR OF ARABIA… … and Dubai to Muscat race victory BEHIND THE SCENES Working onshore to help the team win offshore

OMAN SAILING SCHOOL 30 32 34 36 38 39



JEWEL OF MUSCAT Back to the Future PROFILE: SALEH AL JABRI OMAN’S HISTORY WITH THE SEA INDIAN OCEAN 5 CAPES RACE Establishing a new racing route POTENTIAL RACE COURSES The Middle East and Asia have limitless opportunities ATTRACTING SPONSORS Oman Sail offers a valuable platform for sponsors and partners A TRAVELLER IN OMAN A sailing journalist discovers Oman’s treasures THE BIG PICTURE Oman’s splendour caught on camera 2010 AND BEYOND Looking ahead at Oman Sail’s future and objectives

43 44 46 49 50 52 56 64

PRODUCED BY: Oman Sail PROJECT MANAGER: Ingmar Jense EDITED BY: OC Events / Editor: Jocelyn Blériot DESIGNED BY: OC Vision All rights reserved. Published January 2010 Front Cover picture, above and above left: © Lloyd Images Back Cover & main pictures this page and left: © Mark Covell









Mohsin Al Busaidi left Muscat on Musandam in a bid

Musandam reaches the half-way point in her

Mohsin Al Busaidi becomes the first Arab to

to become the first Arab to circumnavigate the world

circumnavigation of the world (Feb 11th) after sailing

circumnavigate the world non-stop, taking 76 days to


11,000 nautical miles (20,300 kms).

do so.




Masirah wins Oman’s first iShares Cup leg in Hyeres,

Majan is launched in Salalah- the culmination of

Two Omani sailors, pictured with Sir Robin Knox-


49,500 hours of work and 200,000 working parts.

Johnston, leave the UK to sail around the world in the Clipper Race.



© Herbert Fernandes


© Mark Covell


Masirah takes overall victory in the iShares Cup and

Majan completes the Tour of Arabia and Masirah wins

Musandam wins the inaugural Muscat-Khasab race

Jewel of Muscat is launched.

the Hong Kong leg of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia.

and 12 new Omanis join the Oman Sailing School.

Photos without credits: © Lloyd Images

© Rod Carr





Majan’s hulls and beams arrive in Salalah for

22 Omanis complete the selection process to join the

Masirah takes line honours in the JP Morgan Asset


Oman Sailing School.

Management Round The Island Race in Cowes, UK.


There are plans to replicate the community-

me that the Oman Sail project was going to succeed.

focused sailing school in other venues – both around

Masirah winning the iShares Cup, in a tightly

Muscat and further afield. When this happens, the

fought final, was a great achievement. This made the

volume of young people and their families being

headlines and yet again brought publicity and visibility

given a chance to try the sport will explode. This can

to the country and Oman Sail. It also proved that a

only be good for the economy as these new, multi-

well planned campaign with a talented and focused

purpose, marine facilities will be able to accommodate

group of professional sailors, working with some

events and nautical tourism as well as cater for the

emerging Omani talent, can beat some of the world’s

recreational needs of the local population.

best sailing teams. But perhaps the most impressive thing I witnessed

The project continues to have close ties with the UK, currently the world’s most successful Olympic

was down at the marina where Oman Sail is based

Sailing nation, in the form of both Mark Turner, who

where a group of teenage girls from Al Zuhoor School

heads up the world renowned OC Group, and the

arrived with their head teacher for their regular training

Royal Yachting Association, who have developed

session. Within a short time they were out sailing

probably the best training schemes in the world.

under the supervision of their Omani instructors

The programmes are being rolled out taking advice

who had recently arrived back in the country having

from world class practitioners in their field. However,

qualified for their RYA instructor qualification in the

the rapid Omanisation of the scheme is a key feature

UK. The girls were a lively group and had great fun if

of its future growth and sustainability and the last

the peals of laughter were anything to go by!

few months have really shown that local sailors are

The vision that Albert Whitley, Mark Turner and the Minister of Tourism, Dr Dr. Rajiha bint Abdulameer bin Ali, had when they instigated the project has really

ready and willing to step up to the plate and take on significant roles in the programme. The combination of Oman’s maritime heritage,

borne fruit. Oman Sail has a presence on the world

sporting ambition and a plan to bring overseas cruising

stage, Omani sailors have sailed the world’s oceans and

yachtsmen to sample the delights of the beautiful,

they are set to become local heroes for young Omanis

unspoilt coastline which is within a few hours flying

to emulate. A talent pathway has been set up so that

time of Europe, make for a compelling vision – one that

determined and committed young Omanis can follow

deserves to succeed.

in their footsteps and create a permanent, sustainable base for the Sport of Sailing in the Sultanate.

ON THE 25TH OF MARCH 2009, MOHSIN AL BUSAIDI BECAME THE FIRST ARAB SAILOR TO CIRCUMNAVIGATE THE WORLD NON-STOP. TODAY, HE IS A ROLE MODEL FOR YOUNG OMANIS AND HIS VOYAGE HAS HELPED PUT HIS COUNTRY’S MARITIME PAST UNDER THE SPOTLIGHTS. HE LOOKS BACK ON HIS EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENT. Before the start I felt a lot of pressure as I was going on a mission to represent my country around the world, with the ambition to become the first Arab to ever circumnavigate the globe non-stop. It meant a lot for the Sultanate of Oman, very keen to reignite its glorious maritime heritage: I was at the same time very honoured and humbled by the mission that I had been entrusted with. Being the only Omani onboard, there was no one I could share the weight of the task with, and furthermore, I was worried that I might not be able to fit in with the European crew because my English level was quite low… and on a personal note, I am not used to being away from my family and friends. Nevertheless, we all had only one goal, which was to circumnavigate the globe, and that made things much easier. We were all 100% focused on our objective and the team spirit proved very strong. I soon realised that the pressure I felt was mostly self-generated, I did not want to fail, and was afraid to let my family and my country down. Having spent my whole life in Oman, I really suffered from the cold weather, it felt very hostile and there was absolutely no way for me to escape it. Musandam is a thoroughbred and comfort does not have its place on board a high-performance racing yacht, so during those long stormy hours spent on deck at night, I often missed the warmth of the Oman sun. In the Southern Ocean we had to cope with tough conditions, very strong winds and high, treacherous waves, but we all had trained hard and knew what we had signed up for. Not once did I feel that the situation was escaping our control, we managed to sail through whatever was thrown at us. I did not experience fear, because the burning desire I had to fulfill my dreams was much stronger than anything else. But it would not be honest to say that I never felt homesick, I missed listening to the Athan and going to the mosque to pray, and being a very sociable person, I struggled to be away from my family and friends. As the finish line drew nearer, people back home started hinting at the fact that we were about to get a fantastic welcome, but we had been at sea for 70 days, just the five of us, and it was difficult to even imagine what was awaiting us in Muscat. When we got there, I simply could not believe that such a huge crowd could turn up to greet us. It seemed like the whole city had gathered in Port Sultan Qaboos, shouting ‘Mohsin’ and ‘Oman’ in unison, it was completely unreal, I had never seen so many people there. It obviously made me feel extremely proud, but the moment flew by, as I soon found myself in the back of a car on my way to the hotel to catch up properly with my family. The pride I feel today is a very long-lasting one, since my voyage has opened the door to many young Omanis to strive for their goals. I can go to schools and talk about what I did, and inspire the school kids to be the best they can. My country’s heritage is being revived, and I am Majan, and to contribute to the Oman Sailing School.

Mohsin Al Busaidi 8

© Lloyd Images

looking forward to passing everything on to the new wave of Omani sailors aboard







© Lloyd Images




• WEEK 3

Her Excellency Dr Rajiha bint Abdulamair bin Ali, The Minister of Tourism, and His Excellency Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, The Minister of Sports, shook hands with the crew as they left land for the last time until they return to Muscat. As Moshin Al Busaidi pointed out: “I’m very proud of what we have achieved so far and I hope this journey will go well and we succeed in going around the world. Our Omani ancestors didn’t go around the world, but they sailed to many places all over the globe. Oman has given me a lot and I hope I will make my country and family proud of me.” It was then time to leave the dock, and set off for three months.

Covering almost 500 miles per day - thus making Mohsin the fastest Omani sailor of all time - Musandam left Cape Leeuwin (Australia) in her wake after eighteen days at sea, sailing fast in near gale force winds and feeling the temperature drop significantly. The third week at sea was a challenging one, since Musandam’s starboard rudder was broken in a collision with an object or a large fish. Thankfully the spare blade was soon fitted, and the proud trimaran was back up to speed in no time.

Port Sultan Qaboos, Muscat

• WEEK 1

Sailing fast and settling in After the first few silent hours sailing with lumps in our throats, as navigator Charles Darbyshire put it, the crew picked up speed and made good progress, crossing the Equator on January the 13th. Musandam sailed fast on her southerly course, straight towards the tricky Doldrums…

• WEEK 2

Escaping the Doldrums and diving South The Doldrums, or Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) with their typical light and unpredictable winds, sudden squalls and brutal weather changes, lived up to their reputation. Having covered more than 3,000 miles since the start, the crew began to experience choppy seas and hostile weather, as Charlie noted: “Mohsin and I were on deck and got nailed by some heavy rain and 22 knots of wind. In the rain you need to shut your eyes - it’s so strong.”


First great cape in the wake of Musandam!

• WEEK 4

Blown out of the Cook Strait by storm force winds! After having enjoyed a few days of incredibly ‘benign’ conditions in the Roaring Forties, Musandam was caught by more than fifty knots (100 km/h+) of wind whilst passing through the Cook Strait, the narrow channel that separates New Zealand’s North and South islands. Dropping the mainsail in emergency and holding on for dear life, the crew took the blow without flinching and were glad to report a three-day lead over the virtual eighty-day pace boat. The Pacific Ocean was next…

• WEEK 5 Half a world…

Only twenty-four hours away from the halfway mark at the end of week five, Musandam was then sailing in the most remote part of the world, over very bumpy seas and with a storm brewing on her path. As the skipper and his French companion two very experienced multihull racers - were “driving like maniacs” in their

quest for speed, life on board was nothing but brutal for Mohsin and the rest of the crew, forced to hold on at all times… even when falling asleep! At the navstation, the challenge was to find a way to avoid a very active and dangerous low pressure system.

• WEEK 6

Oman’s flag flies proudly at the foot of Cape Horn Cape Horn and its infamous dark jagged rocks were duly saluted on day 40, after an amazing zone of virtually no wind, which was probably the least expected obstacle in the vicinity of the feared South American cape. For Mohsin, all notion of time seemed to have been abolished when the crew reached that legendary landmark: “three hours on / three hours off watch means that I sleep when I need to, day or night. The interesting thing for me is in Muscat we don’t have much difference in the length of daylight and darkness (twelve hours each), out here it changes all the time with the shortest night so far being six hours - the countdown has started to Muscat and my own bed.”

• WEEK 7

Shaky ride but great progress A bumpy week indeed, but one of high speeds and great gains over the virtual eighty-day pace boat, some seven days behind Musandam! Week seven will be remembered as a challenging one tactically speaking, with yet another massive storm to avoid without covering too many miles… All eyes were focused on the last landmark before re-entering the Indian Ocean, the Cape of Good Hope; less than 2000 miles away.


76 days, 1 hour, 12 minutes, 42 seconds

Departed: 8th January Returned: 25th March MUSCAT

CAPE LEEUWIN 26th January

CAPE OF GOOD HOPE 28th February

CAPE HORN 18th February




A rough welcome back, courtesy of the Indian Ocean Having rounded Good Hope - or the “Cape of Storms”, as it was first named in the 16th century - on Day 52, the crew was anxiously waiting to be able to jibe and head North, towards the Equator and eventually the finish line! But the weather seemed to have decided otherwise, and Musandam was slamming upwind, taking another beating in the Roaring Forties!

• WEEK 9

Homeward bound As temperatures rose and rain showers started to be more frequent, the sailors’ morale improved a lot and as Charlie said, looking forward to the finish line, “We should arrive back in Muscat in reasonably clean clothes (all things are relative).” Yet things were still not simple and the crew had to cope with squalls, tropical rain clouds, choppy seas or spells of calm, and a constantly unsettled feeling that will have put the crew’s nerves on edge. Would the gear withstand the brutal changes and confused sea state?

• WEEK 10

Is Muscat a mirage? “I was hoping I’d be in Omani territorial waters by now, ”Mohsin said on Day 67 (March 15) “We are moving slowly and we’re trying to find a way out of this. The best winds we had so far are about six knots!” Tough times for Musandam, whose 3,000-mile lead over the virtual eighty-day pace boat started to melt under the sun and the absence of wind! Patience was the name of the game, but with less than 1,500 miles to go, being becalmed certainly felt very cruel.


25.03.2009 Musandam’s triumph On March 25th at 15:43:12 Local Time (11:43:12 GMT) Mohsin made history to become the first Arab to sail non-stop around the world, as Musandam crossed the finish line in Muscat in under eighty days. “I am so happy, so proud for my country,” said the local hero, “it has been the most amazing experience of my life. Although the voyage has only taken seventy-six days, I have loved sailing and the sea for a long time”. This round the world journey has been the key focus for the newly formed Oman Sail project and we wanted to show quickly what could be achieved to inspire others. We’ll continue the voyage of our ancestors who sailed the seas and we’ll build boats and masts, so our children continue the journey after us.” THE CREW


Loïk Gallon (FR) - skipper Mohsin Al Busaidi (Oman) Thierry Duprey Du Vorsent (FR) Charles Darbyshire (UK) Nick Houchin (UK)

Start/finish: Muscat, Oman Distance: 24,287 nautical miles (44,979 kilometres ) Average speed over ground: 13.3 knots Total journey length: 76 days, 1 hour, 12 minutes, 42 seconds


Muscat (08/01/2009 10:30:30) - Cape Leeuwin (26/01/2009 14:00:00) 18 days 3 hrs 29 mins 30 secs - distance sailed 6,035 nautical miles

Musandam, formerly B&Q 75-ft trimaran, former holder of the solo round-the-world record with Dame Ellen MacArthur Design: Nigel Irens - Benoît Cabaret Build: Boatspeed, Australia Launched in 2004


Cape Leeuwin (26/01/2009 14:00:00) – Cape Horn (17/02/2009 16:05:00) 22 days 2 hrs 5 mins 0 secs - distance sailed 8,195 nautical miles Cape Horn (17/02/2009 16:05:00) – Cape of Good Hope (28/02/2009 03:03:00) 10 days 11 hrs 0 mins 0 secs - distance sailed 3,980 nautical miles Cape of Good Hope (28/02/2009 03:03:00) – Muscat (25/03/2009 11:43:12) 25 days 8 hrs 48 mins 12 secs - distance sailed 6,073 nautical miles

“We’ll continue the voyage of our ancestors who sailed the seas and we’ll build boats and masts, so our children continue the journey after us.” Mohsin Al Busaidi The first Arab to circumnavigate the world non-stop 12


Photos: © Lloyd Images



© Lloyd Images


© Lloyd Images

©Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OC Events


With two crews flying Oman Sail’s colours among the 10-boat fleet, it was all set to be a big year for the Sultanate on the international racing scene but the result exceeded all expectations. By the last race of the last day at the last venue, it was Masirah who took the overall title of iShares Cup Champions with Renaissance finishing on the third step of the podium! With six high-profile European cities in the summer schedule, the 2009 iShares Cup Extreme Sailing Series featured a crew line-up of forty sailors that would have intimidated many world-level competitors. Pete Cumming, skipper of Masirah, was humbled by being with many of them at the launch event in Paris, “I felt a bit of a misfit looking at all these other legends on the roll call,” he said. “Now I feel proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these guys having competed with them and beaten them.” Among the French multihull heavyweights who represented one of the biggest threats was legendary skipper, Mr. Multihull and Jedi-Master, Loïck Peyron. Peyron was both a stablemate and a rival on the water at the helm of Renaissance, Oman Sail’s second Extreme 40 to be entered in the series and casually known as “Oman Blue” on the race course while Masirah was dubbed “Oman Red”. Peyron would prove more than willing to share his extensive knowledge during training in Muscat and Europe, but proved hard to beat around the course come race day, when he was focused only on winning as many races as possible! Having finished in fourth place overall at the end of the 2008 season, Pete Cumming, Chris Draper, Mark Bulkeley and David “Freddie” Carr knew that consolidating everything they had learnt and maintaining their flawless crew work was key. As a result the boys put their heads down and practised relentlessly off Muscat during the winter in the conditions in which they would ultimately shine. Sailing in an average of 10 to 12 knots of breeze, they polished their manoeuvres, sharpened their tactics, practised their starts and worked on the communications on board. When they won the second event of the season in Hyères, France, clearly displaying total dominance with eight wins in nineteen races, it seemed obvious to everyone that they would be a force to be reckoned with. Fast, aggressive on the start line and able to keep a cool head under pressure, the Masirah team proved that their hard work had been worthwhile. In the meantime, Renaissance managed to finish third in Hyères despite having missed six races following a collision with a boat that did not have the right of way over them. As the season progressed Pete and his crew kept on winning with Loïck and his crew never far behind, picking up seconds and thirds but never achieving the top step. Misfortune struck in Amsterdam when Masirah was badly hit by a fellow competitor and had to be craned out of the water with a massive hole in the port float. “We were just a few hundred metres away from the quay when we were hit, and it only took a couple of minutes for the assistance boat to tow us back,” recalls Pete Cumming, “but we were sinking fast, it was devastating.” Thanks to shore crew expert and boat builder extraordinaire Ian McCabe (read our feature on page 28), Masirah was back in the water the following day in time for the races. But having been granted an average of points based on the first races completed (ironically the crew had their worst opening day of the season before being hit), climbing back up the ladder was a tough task but one which the crew accepted the challenge and sailed a textbook race the following morning. The incident naturally came as a shock for the boys, who realised how quickly a lead can shrink in a highly competitive environment such as the Extreme Sailing Series. Still in the overall lead when the sun rose © OC Events

in the Spanish sky for the final event in Almeria, Masirah knew that two other crews could still make it to the top. These included their own teammates aboard Renaissance and the highly consistent French Gitana Team, led by former Olympic sailor and multihull expert, Yann Guichard. With only two points separating the top three boats, the battle was bound to be as hot as the Andalucian sun and officials from Oman, Her Excellency Dr. Rajiha Bint Abdulamir Bin Ali, Oman’s Minister of Tourism, His Excellency Eng. Sultan Hamdoon al Harthi, Head of Muscat Municipality and the Municipal Council as well as His Excellency, Oman’s Ambassador to Spain, had flown in to cheer for the Oman Sail teams. On the water, light winds made for a tactical game, and great starts were vital to guarantee good results on the short, harbour front courses. No one could afford to post average scores given the tight points situation at the top of the leader board and tensions were running high, especially as there were other teams who wanted to win the Almeria leg, though they could not compete for the overall win. As Masirah helmsman Chris Draper stressed, “We are just going to try and keep out of trouble. It’s hard not to pile the pressure on any more than it already is, so we will be treating every race in the same way as we did with the first or second event. Keep calm and stay out of trouble.” Winning 25% of the races completed by the fleet that final weekend (four out of sixteen) and focusing on consistency, Pete Cumming’s crew secured the 2009 title, but in typical Extreme Sailing Series fashion nothing was to be taken for granted before the final race, during which the crown could still have gone to Gitana! An elated Cumming declared, “This weekend has been a dream. The support we have had from Oman is incredible and we all felt their presence on the water - the fact Their Excellencies came to support us in person means the world to us. To put on this performance and to fly the flag for the Sultanate of Oman is going to be a day that we will not forget. We have been involved in this project for two years and it has been 118 races. To win by three points, it can’t get any closer than that!” With a total of two wins but a couple of very costly back of fleet results, Renaissance wasn’t able to overtake Gitana in the overall standing, but nevertheless climbed on the final podium, finishing third for their first season on the circuit. “It has been an incredible season for the team. Being part of the Oman Sail team, the spirit, the country and the people have become our friends. I am really impressed by the way Masirah has been sailing and they have done a really good job. I can’t be 100% happy but for an old guy, third place is not too bad! And I can’t forget my crew - a big thanks to them too.” (Loïck was consistently supported by his all-star crew of fellow countryman Julien Cressant as well as Australian Greg Homann and British sailor, Pete Greenhalgh.) Her Excellency Dr. Rajiha Bint Abdulamir Bin Ali, Oman’s Minister of Tourism, was incredibly inspired by the performance of both teams. “I am so proud to have been able to watch Oman Sail’s Masirah winning the series in front of thousands of spectators in Spain. I dedicate this victory to the wise leadership of His Majesty and his vision in bringing this project into fruition. I want to thank all the team in Oman Sail and in particular the team on Masirah for reaching first place - it was not an easy victory. I didn’t realise how difficult this was until I came to Spain to watch Oman Sail racing myself. My congratulations to the team.” His Excellency Eng. Sultan Hamdoon al Harthi was just as impressed by the victory that unfolded in front of him, “It is a matter of pride for Oman that Masirah and Renaissance dominated the iShares Cup, not just in Spain but also the entire series. To win first and third overall is a result of an unprecedented performance.” ABOUT THE EXTREME SAILING SERIES Following on from the success of the iShares Cup Series, the Extreme Sailing Series Asia was developed to take the proven formula of high-adrenaline sailing close to shore into the cities of Asia and the Middle East. The Series kicked off in Hong Kong’s infamous harbour where Masirah took the first win of the series. Three weeks later the fleet was racing in Singapore where the Oman Sail teams bookended the podium with a first from Masirah and a third from The Wave, Muscat. The finale and decider took place in Muscat from the 1st-5th February, after this magazine was published. Photos: © Lloyd Images



LAUNCHED AFTER FOUR MONTHS OF ASSEMBLY IN OMAN’S SOUTHERN MOST PORT OF SALALAH AND NAMED MAJAN AFTER THE ANCIENT NAME OF THE SULTANATE, OMAN SAIL’S NEW A100 FLAGSHIP IS ONE OF THE MOST ADVANCED RACING MULTIHULLS ON THE PLANET. This new Oman Sail flagship is the first member of the new Arabian 100 (A100) one design class that will provide the perfect platform for the development of high-level sailing campaigns in the region. One-Design fleets allow for the creation of exciting and public-friendly competitions, without any complicated handicap systems, generating close-combat racing whilst remaining in a context of controlled costs. The main objective behind the creation of that new class is not to take on the ‘classic’ European events, but to develop a thriving racing scene in the Gulf Region and around the Indian Ocean. Proud heir of the Musandam world-record breaking trimaran, Majan is an already proven concept, developed by multihull experts Nigel Irens (UK) and Benoît Cabaret (FRA). Oman’s new flagship is the third offspring of a world famous sisterhood which consists of Francis Joyon’s IDEC, round-the-world record holder, and Thomas Coville’s Sodeb’O, holder of the solo 24-hours record. The A100 will however differ from her sisters in terms of deck and interior layouts, since unlike the French trimarans she has been adapted to be raced by a full crew. When working on the blueprint of this new speed machine, the designers took Dame Ellen MacArthur’s B&Q (now Musandam) as a reference and adjusted the general balance given the increased proportions: at just over 100 feet (32 metres), the giant is one of the ten longest sailing multihulls ever built! Relying on a long central hull that extends beyond the lateral floats, the A100 is safe at high speeds in rough sea conditions - her massive bow prevents dangerous nose-dives whilst sailing downwind, and thus allows for high average speeds over long periods of time.






The sailplan, the ‘engine’ of the boat, has been carefully designed to remain manageable even in stormy conditions, and the mast is stepped rather far aft in order to take some pressure off the forward sections (again to prevent nosediving). To add clearance, the crossbeams are high above the water, ensuring the boat will not sustain any damage by repeatedly hitting the crests of waves - a phenomenon which has been known to become a speed reducing factor for many ocean-going multihulls. Capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots (74 km/h), this giant trimaran is clearly among the fastest ocean racers ever conceived, and as round-theworld hero Mohsin Al Busaidi commented after the first heavy weather outing: “The acceleration of Majan is incredible, we moved from 20-30 knots in one gust of wind. We now look forward to showing the world what she can do!” Skippered by Paul Stanbridge, who raced around the world and took part in the America’s Cup, Majan will initially sail with a crew of six. 50% of the sailors are Omani offshore trainees joined by three international professional crew providing the one-on-one training that the recruits require at this early stage of their career. The first chapter of her journey was a ‘Tour of Arabia’ from Muscat, which included stops in UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar (read page 24) before she joined the Dubai-Muscat race back to Muscat in late November.

Photos: © Lloyd Images




2 Floats 3


4 Mast 5


6 Cockpit 7

Chart Table

8 Bunk 12



10 Generator 11 Media Comms 12 Mainsail 13 Foresail

British naval architect Nigel Irens is an iconic figure in the world of multihulls, having designed the most emblematic racers of the last quarter of century. His boats have won all of the major international multihull events (Route du Rhum, The Artemis Transat, outright round the world record, singlehanded round the world record…), and Nigel was the first designer to launch a carbon racing catamaran exceeding 75 feet in length - nearly 30 years ago! French structure specialist Benoît Cabaret joined forces with Irens in the late 1990s, bringing his expertise in the fields of computer-generated imagery and calculation.




3 6




9 5







ATTENTION TO DETAIL COMBINED WITH HIGH TECH MATERIALS Often derived from aeronautics, the technology involved in high-performance multihull building allows for light yet strong structures, thanks to the use of carbon fibre, lightweight metals such as titanium, and computer-assisted engineering. To weather the Southern Ocean’s fiercest storms, the A100’s structure combines lightness with speed and strength by relying on a honeycomb core (weighing only 2 kilos per square metre) trapped between two carbon fibre skins, - giving the configuration its nickname of “sandwich”.

Photos: © Lloyd Images



THE A100


The highest diving platform used in the Olympic Games

Has a mast height of 32.5m (107ft)

Measures 67m (220ft) from top to bottom

measures 10m (33ft)

MAJAN IN FIGURES Length: 32 metres (105 ft) Width: 16.50 metres (54 ft) Mast height: 32.5 metres (107ft) Maximum sail area (approx): 550 sq. metres (5,920 sq. ft)


© Herbert Fernandes

or the Oman Sail campaign, Majan represented the perfect opportunity to train selected apprentices, embed them in the technical squad and “showcase” the build in order to inspire new vocations. “We had two full time Omani trainees, Mohammed Al Ghainami and Salim Ambusaidi”, explains Neil Graham who leads the Offshore Challenges Sailing Team group of specialists in charge of the A100 project. “They were eager to learn, and the guys spent a lot of time building up their knowledge and skills, they were an integral part of our team right from the start.” As one of the most advanced ocean racing multihulls ever built, Majan certainly provided a variety of interesting technical case studies, and both trainees experienced working in different areas, in order to get a global view of the skills involved: composite lamination, deck hardware fitting, rigging, electronics… Being a good shore team member means having an understanding of how all the elements of the boat work together, even if at some stage each individual will develop his own area of expertise. “The builders we had working on Majan had been involved in the construction of Musandam but also worked for America’s Cup teams, so Mohammed and Salim really learnt from some of the best guys on the market,” added Neil. “Developing a local team of skilled specialists has always been at the centre of the Oman Sail campaign: not only does it make sense because they now have a fairly impressive fleet to maintain with Majan, the numerous dinghies or the Tour Voile training boats, but it’s also important for the whole project to provide inspiration, new ideas to the youth of Oman. I have to say our trainees did not receive any kind of special treatment, they had to go through the

© Kat Birtwistle

usual learning process, which of course starts with the most menial tasks there are in a

Dawood Al Balushi, a senior rigger who’s sailed around the planet on Sahab Oman but

boatyard. They showed determination and great manual capabilities, so they moved on

had never worked on a racing boat before flying to France to learn a new skill at the

quickly and I know they will become very valuable assets for their team.

North Sails loft (read our article page 28). No doubt the Oman Sailing School and the

“It was fascinating to share experiences and talk about where our lives had taken

sailing team will benefit from the competence these “experts in the making” will bring,

us throughout the years, the locals who worked with us often proved very interesting.

especially since all this local talent will be put to work in purpose-built workshops and a

Some have been in the Sultanate’s Navy and travelled the world, others have a great

sail loft, with two objectives in mind: being able to run the structure autonomously and

knowledge of traditional techniques…” It’s certainly the case as far as Saud Abdul Aziz

to train young Omanis in the process, by enrolling them in real-life operations.


M O H A M M E D B I N N A J I M A L G H A I L A N I 23


The Offshore Sailor

26-YEAR-OLD MOHAMMED BIN NAJIM AL GHAILANI CUTS A GRACIOUS STRIDE AS HE ARRIVES FOR WORK EVERYDAY AT THE OMAN SAILING SCHOOL. Born and raised in Sur, a three-hour drive south-east of Muscat, Mohammed is a true success story for Oman Sail and his example rings true with the cornerstone ideals of the project. His family is one of many in Sur who have strong ties to the sea, and especially dhow sailing. In young men like Mohammed lies the key to reigniting Oman’s rich and varied maritime heritage and entwining those values back into those of modern Oman. Mohammed’s grandfather, Bin Najim, is the reason that he joined Oman Sail and why he has his father’s support in following this path, wherever it may lead. His grandfather was one of many seafarers who plied their trade on traditional dhows that took the monsoon winds between Sur and the distant shores of Africa, or further down the coats of the Arabian Peninsula. A visit to Sur’s maritime museum today would bring you closer to Mohammed’s ancestry as the dhow that is on display in the museum is the actual one that his grandfather sailed back from Yemen to Oman. As he grew up in Sur, the young sailor often talked to his father and grandfather about seafaring and heard stories of the sea, something which continued with his father as he grew older. After graduating from high school in Sur, Mohammed headed to the capital city to do a course in engineering at Sultan Qaboos University. After graduation, he spent a year working for the Public Authority in Sur Industrial Estate (part of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry) before joining an Italian engineering firm based in Muscat. Mohammed recalls a day when he and his father were talking and a modern

Photos: © Lloyd Images

speedboat went past to take people fishing, diving or on a picnic in one of Oman’s secluded bays. He turned to his father and said, ‘I would like a boat like that one day.’ His father looked at him and said, ‘It is better to sail on the water on a sailing boat like your grandfather, than on a boat like this.’ A few weeks later Mohammed was driving along the coast from Muscat’s old area of Mutrah when he saw a 26’ (8m) sailing boat with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it. He recalled the words of his father, immediately called the owner and started negotiations. Unfortunately he was unsuccessful in his bid, but he had made the decision to buy a sailing boat and continued his search, eventually venturing to the Marina in which Oman Sail is based. He asked one of the boatboys there where he could buy a sailing

boat and was directed to the Oman Sailing School, which until then was unknown to him. Online, he discovered the whole programme and learnt that there was currently an Omani (Mohsin Al Busaidi) sailing around the world. His eye was immediately drawn to the ‘Join The Team’ section of the site, and he immediately applied and was accepted for the trials. Mohammed’s determination and ability secured him a sought after spot in phase two of the of the selection process and realised that he had to make a decision about his future and whether he wanted to continue this or simply pat himself on the back and return to the safety of his job and a future in engineering. ‘It was a tough decision,’ Mohammed recalls, ‘I had a very good job in the engineering firm and they had invested in me and I was on a good salary. But I loved the sailing we had done in the recruitment process and the project itself was incredible with the goals it had set for the future.’ He was facing a very serious dilemma so he turned to the only person who could help with his decision, his father. Although he understood the position his son was in, he was steadfast in urging him to follow his heart and continue with Oman Sail. ‘You won’t regret it,’ he said and, with that, Mohammed decided that he would push on with Oman Sail and make the best of the opportunity. In June, Mohammed was accepted as a full time trainee in the Oman Sail programme and his apprenticeship began in earnest with over a month in the UK

learning how to sail under the tutelage of professional instructors and mentored by Ali Ambusaidi, one of Oman Sail’s Omani instructors. ‘When I saw Mohsin go around the world I knew then and there that that is what I wanted to do. Even after sailing the dinghies in the UK and Oman I was steadfast in knowing what I wanted to do. During my review I told my coaches that I wanted to go offshore and they agreed that I was suited for it.’ On returning from the UK he took a short break before joining the crew on Musandam, the 75’ (23m) trimaran that took Mohsin Al Busaidi around the world, and sailed to Salalah and back. Once he had done this he was chosen to join the crew on Majan, Oman Sail’s flagship A100 trimaran, on the Tour of Arabia that took them from Salalah to Kuwait and on to Bahrain, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai before returning to Muscat. Mohammed took to offshore sailing very easily and finds himself at home and very comfortable onboard the spartan racing machines of Musandam and Majan. ‘I prefer to be on Majan than on shore in a hotel. I am enjoying life on board and savour the challenge and learning.’ Once the Tour of Arabia is completed Mohammed is hoping to qualify amongst his colleagues for the ‘Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race’ challenge and, after that, the ‘Around Oman’ race. He has already passed several challenges, one of the biggest of which is not having been seasick!





find myself on another journey, I’m sat on a train to London Waterloo, it’s cold, wet, windy and grey. As I look out of the misted window at the wet fields and winterized leafless trees I think of how different my experience has been over the last month. The inaugural Tour of Arabia was a journey, a journey of discovery, testing, teaching, and learning. I was to be the eyes and ears of the tour, helping document the rhythm of life onboard. On the learning road myself, I consider my new role as gamekeeper turned poacher. I’m lucky enough to come from a professional sailing career spanning two decades taking in Olympics, America’s Cup and Volvo. I do less trimming, pumping and hiking and now I’m more concerned with clicking, shooting and writing. The mission was simple. Hook up with an international squad of young professional sailors. Sail their new trimaran, Majan south from Kuwait, treading a modern route via Bahrain, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and eventually home to Muscat. It was to be known as the Tour of Arabia, with the view to one day race these waters. The young sailors were already working confidently under the sturdy skipper-ship of Paul Standbridge, a wily old sea dog with more rights than most to sport a gold ring in his left ear – a privilege traditionally reserved to those who had rounded Cape Horn. The left ear was the one which had faced the Horn in a typical eastbound passage, having survived the rounding also granted the right to dine with one foot on the table; a sailor who had also rounded the Cape of Good Hope could place both feet on the table. A sailor who had sailed around Cape Horn was also able to brag by showing off his tattoo of a full-rigged ship. Paul Standbridge has the full house, bearded, brigantine and all. His team, both sailing and shore crew, would follow him to the edge of the world. His appointment as skipper was perfect, as one of the aims of the Tour was to gain more time on the water for the young Omani recruits. Time on the water is what Paul lives for, and passing his wealth of knowledge on seemed to be his new pastime. It would be a fantastic opportunity for the five keen Omani recruits to taste the sea salt, sailing, navigating, living and working onboard. The Tour of Arabia was also a chance to showcase the beautiful new A100 Majan and to gauge the general interest for sailing and racing in the region. Majan is 105 foot of pent up, slingshot power, with clean sharp lines designed to eat sea miles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Her long low slung streamline hulls look more like three venomous serpents hunting in unison, swallowing white waves as they dart forward. My thoughts, that had been drifting back to those memories, were immediately brought back to home port: “That’s an impressive looking boat,” said a tall, spectacled, worldly looking man to my left, glancing down at the picture of Majan on my laptop. Striking up a conversation I boasted, “Yes and it’s fast too, capable of forty knots, it sails at one and a half times the wind. It would go pretty fast today!” I said looking out the window at the blustery gale force winds. “I’ve just come back from sailing her down the length of the Arabian Gulf,” I said without trying to sound too tanned. He looked interested; he continued, “I’ve spent some time in the Gulf working as a geologist surveying the seabed for a major oil company. All the time I worked there I longed to sail in > > >> those beautiful waters, they are fantastic.”

>> >



We chatted for a while, enthusing about the place and all it has to offer but we kept coming back to the lack of sailing. My new friend seemed to hit it on the head.

I have sailed in many places and sailed round many obstacles, day and night,

“The region is still so very young, sailing like we know it in Europe is still building.”

including fast moving ships, rocky islands and shifting sandbanks. Sailing in the

It sounded ridiculous to state that Arabia, a place with such a rich maritime

Gulf has got to take the award for the best lit obstacles ever. At night you can see

history of fishing and trading on the sea should be described as young. The plain

the burn-off from the oilrigs so brightly that I had to put my shades on. Sailing a

facts are that the newfound prosperity in the area has only begun to spread to

state of the art trimaran past old traditional working wooden Dhows trawling the

newer interest in the last ten to fifteen years. The Dubai to Muscat race has been

seabed, past huge modern steel tankers fuelling the world, past frightened fish

running for 19 years but it took 2009 to attract international acclaimed crews and

jumping, swimming for their lives and past new concrete cities growing before

record entries.

your eyes. I wondered what other parts of the world were growing so fast. I half

Golf, Formula 1, Tennis and Horseracing have led the sporting way. However the winds of change are beginning to blow. From a vivid circuit of traditional Dhow racing to a very healthy F1 powerboat racing presence, the Gulf is starting to look

expected the legendary Sindbad the Sailor to power past in his new A100 and challenge us to a race. We arrived into Bahrain on the morning of the 12th November to the sad

to the sea again. In 1998 the World Championships of sailing were held in Dubai.

news the King’s uncle had passed away, and the country was in mourning.

Two teams for the last America’s Cup held their winter training in the Gulf. Alinghi

In respect to the Bahraini Royal family we canceled all our PR engagements,

did most of the testing of their giant catamaran in waters off Ras Al Khaimah. We

promising we would be back one day to showcase Majan to the newly formed

are seeing more and more sailing coming to the region from RC44 world circuit to

Bahraini sailing team. After a short welcoming stop we pushed on to our next port

the new hydro foiling Moth worlds. Academies are springing up in Bahrain, Qatar,

of call, Doha in Qatar.

Dubai and of course Oman. The World is waking up to the Arabian waters. “Tickets please.” The words of the bearded guard snapped me back to the

We let go of our lines and headed out to open water with a very light southerly breeze promising a shifty beat to Doha. It was very obvious from their

journey in hand. I handed my grubby ticket over for the ceremonial clipping of

actions that the three Omani sailors on board had worked it out. Teamwork was

the dog-eared corner. With the dank UK winter still trying to flood the fields, it

the way forward. Mohsin Al Buisadi, with his sailing experience solid and confident

wasn’t long before I was drifting back to the warm waters of Kuwait and leg one

and assured, led the group. Mohsin had become the first ever Arab to sail non-

of the tour.

stop around the world this year (read our feature on page 8).

The first thing that we discovered was that the Gulf is a challenging place


moss we rolled onto Bahrain.

Nawaf, the fisherman, was quick and nimble round the deck with good

to sail. All sailors know that we need to perform in a wide range of conditions,

winch skills. His father was a sailor and obviously passed on his awareness and

that’s what makes sailing so engaging. The first day was unfortunately lacking

understanding of the sea. However Nawaf was hampered by his lack of English.

that important ingredient, WIND. When you step up to the plate to compete as a

You have to remember that when an Omani recruit steps up to join Oman Sail he

sailor you are asking Mother Nature to bring it on. Bring rain, bring sunshine, bring

enters a world of spoken English. English is the international language of sailing

storms, bring waves the size of a house but just occasionally she brings a millpond.

and to make it in that sport you do need to have a working knowledge of the

I think that’s why they made mother nature a woman, so she could change her

idiom. Enter Haitham, his English is very good. So Moshin and Nawaf get tips from

mind at the last minute. Anyway with the forward motion of a stone gathering no

Haitham on that front. They in return teach Haitham all they know about sailing


Sailing in the Gulf has got to take the award for the best lit obstacles ever. At night you can see the burn-off from the oilrigs so brightly that I had to put my shades on..”

© Mark Lloyd

and the workings of the winches and boat. They have worked it out! Together they

briefing he packed no punches. “You bring no clothes over what’s on your back; all

are strong. When I told Haitham what I was writing about. He replied, “Yes, in

spares, tools, fenders off the boat. Only freeze-dried food, rationed water, we are

Arabic we say, you can’t clap loud with only one hand.”

in full race mode. We make use of every zephyr that comes our way.” Paul’s tone

This next leg to Doha, leg 2 was looking like another slow one, with the light

had changed, no longer the smiling oracle willing to spend all the time in the world

headwinds coming and going. Paul spent time on the helm showing Haitham how

to explain things. This was competitive Paul, he knew that we were on the line to

to see the wind’s fingerprints on the water like pale blue patterned rugs. Then

be watched and judged, a sort of end of term exam. For the Omani recruits it was

when the rugs turned into wall-to-wall carpet, he tried to feel the breeze building

time to shine, show what they had learnt and turn classroom into class act.

on his face. Paul showed him how to convert that sensation into a better feeling on

The forecast was for everything, from light sea breezes to nothing at night

the helm. Raising his senses and teaching him that sailing isn’t just about electric

to 20 knots on the finish line. Prepared for all comers we had a good start and

dials and red course compass numbers. It’s about sense, balance and gut feelings.

teetered out onto the course. I describe it this way as it was like walking out onto

The clever watch system meant that the hours passed quickly. The four-hour

a melting ice sheet not knowing where the cracks were. The waters were flat, with

stints were staggered between the crews so eventually every teammate got to

a light onshore wind, with big shifts and patches of almost nothing. It can take a

spend time on deck with each other on the rolling watch. Food was simple. Every

giant trimaran over 3 minutes to tack, so we often had to sail on very bad headings

man boils some water for himself on the amazing Jetboil which seems to boil

and glide through no wind holes. Our closest competitor was a nimble TP52 that

water faster than you can open the lid of your chosen pot noodle. Within minutes

we could already see was hopping from one shift to another, delicately picking her

you have a hot meal fit for a broke students Sunday roast. As the legs were short

way through the 30°C “ice field”. If the wind stayed light the race had the potential

there was plenty of fresh fruit and even some fresh milk for your tea. This was

of being a David versus Goliath fight, and we all know how that one turned out.

absolute luxury and I couldn’t get over the fact there wasn’t a Jersey cow on the foredeck called Daisy. We got to Doha early in the morning and had to hold ourselves in our own

We were willing for the wind to pick up, as we would then be off like a bucket of prawns on a hot day in the sun. The race proved to be really tactical, with difficult decisions. Stick to the shore for the night breeze or sail the shorter route

spiralling holding pattern off shore. After some confusion on where to go for

but run the risk of no wind? I won’t go into the many twists and turns of the three-

customs clearance we docked at the foot of the city. It felt like we had been invited

day race, suffice to say that we made the most of every puff, drifted better than

up to the main steps of the palace to have tea with the king. The impressive new

most, kept clear of ice and fishing buoys and crossed the finish line off Bander Al

cityscape rose up from our pontoon. We had a fantastic reception welcomed by

Rowdha, Muscat, Oman at 18:44 49sec on the 28th November 2009 taking line

local press and VIP’s. Our stay in Doha was excellent, there was plenty of interest

honours and winning our class. Our objectives had been met, we were home.

in Majan and Paul even ran into an old friend from his round the world days to swing the lantern with. After a brief flyby of Abu Dhabi we headed down to Dubai to prepare for the

The train drew to an abrupt stop. “London Waterloo, change here for all stations, please remember to collect all bags and belongings, thank you for traveling with us today.” The metallic voice

Dubai to Muscat race. There was a real buzz building around the race, with talk

of the station announcement brought me crashing back to the trip in hand. My

of big entries and high profile competitors plus Majan smashing the record to bits

journey had finished but thinking fondly of my time on Oman Sail’s Majan, theirs

- you gotta love pre race chat! Chat or not it was ours to lose. In Paul’s pre race

was only beginning.

Photos: © Mark Covell


Photos, clockwise from top: 1. The Try Sailing programme is managed by Omanis from the Oman Sailing School. (© Ingmar Jense)

4. Precise engineering and maintenance is an absolute necessity on racing yachts.

2. All aspects of running the campaigns are backed up by Oman Sail staff to ensure the sail teams are at their best.

5. Saud Al Balushi and Said Al Hattali have been trained in the art

3. Ian McCabe works through the night to ensure Masirah is back on the water in Amsterdam.

Photos 2,3 & 4: © Lloyd Images


of sailmaking and repair as well as rigging and shore support. (© Ingmar Jense)


BEHIND THE SCENES… A SEA OF OPPORTUNITIES “If my job has been well done, everyone will forget about it, that’s the objective: to send the boys out on the water with a boat whose potential can be exploited without a second though. That means they can overlook some of the technicalities and use the boat as a tool, knowing it’s reliable. My role is to make everything transparent, and to have a solution ready should something go wrong.” Ian McCabe, boat builder of the Oman Sail Extreme 40 teams, gave us his vision of the job during the penultimate round of the 2009 iShares Cup in Amsterdam, in which his skills have been - quite literally - displayed under the spotlight! Used to working in the privacy of the boat shed, Ian had to deal with the aftermath of two collisions, the second of which left Masirah taking on water, a gaping hole visible in her port float. Under such circumstances, and given the pressure the Oman Sail Extreme 40 was under in the race to overall victory, pulling out of the event was absolutely inconceivable; repairs had to be carried out on the spot - as quickly as possible, despite the lack of proper facilities. A real challenge, as the boat builder commented: “It was a big repair, even if I had been in a workshop it would have been a big repair, so to do it overnight on the side of a dock in the middle of Amsterdam with residents about fifty feet away... I had a curfew, I couldn’t actually do any grinding or use any power tools from ten at night till seven in the morning. It’s interesting to do stuff like this in the middle of the city, working out of the back of a van!” Without the talent and dedication of Ian, the

work carried out by those who stay ashore. Will soon-to-be sails experts Saud Al Balushi and Said Al Hattali, the two Omani trainees who have spent two months working in the French division of North Sails, feel the same dedication when their time comes to get involved in one of the Sultanate’s international campaign? “They are two very enthusiastic characters, eager to learn and showing a real commitment,” says Bruno Dubois, head of North Sails in Brittany, who welcomed the apprentices. “Given the size of the Oman Sail project and the number of boats involved, it really made sense for the team to integrate its own sail loft,” added Bruno, who incidentally is also a very experienced offshore racer. “The idea is to pass on our knowledge and help set up a sails repair facility, both for the smaller crafts of the Sailing School and the team’s flagship, the new Majan A100 trimaran, whose massive sails have to be shipped to Europe each time some work needs to be carried out on them. “It did not make sense in the long run and gaining specific expertise is at the core of the project. Both Saïd and Saud had previous experience in the field, having worked on the sails and the rigging of traditional Omani boats; they came to our loft with their heritage and we built up on it, taking them to the next level in terms of technique and materials. One has to bear in mind that a boat like Majan uses the highest level of technology available in the market today, so very specific skills have to be developed. The Oman Sail loft should be fully operational by February

‘LEARNING HOW TO MAINTAIN, AND EVEN DESIGN, SUCH HI-TECH SAILS HAS BEEN AN INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE. I LOOK FORWARD TO FOLLOWING THE BOATS AROUND AS A FULL TIME MEMBER OF THE SHORE TEAM.’ Saud Al Balushi Masirah crew would have been left stranded on the dock, and they certainly did not forget to pay tribute to their saviour when enjoying their victory. Of course, things are not always as spectacular, but shore crew members always know that their work is what will keep the sailors afloat once they’re out there - there is a definite sense of pride mixed with responsibility that “goes with the job”, and makes it at the same time rewarding and humbling. As French sailor Alain Colas put it as he was preparing to set off on his own around the planet in 1973: “I will keep a strong memory of the girl who sewed my storm sail, that sail of the last chance, the one that you use when no other can hold, when all you can do is to continue to fight the storm. I have a clear memory of that solemn girl, hunched over my fate. Daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of fishermen, it was her heritage she was sewing in that sail. Whether she did it properly, a little bit better, or whether she, as she did, put her own soul into each stitch would not change anything to her pay packet. It was her respect for the sea she was stitching in the cloth, or maybe the wish, forever tainted with worry, of her mothers and her ancestors to see their sailors come home.” As emphatic as it may seem some forty years after it was written, that text nevertheless constitutes the best possible image of the utter importance of the

2010, and the objective is for that structure to be autonomous and capable of taking care of the whole fleet, from Optimists to ocean-going trimarans and Extreme 40s. Being involved in that new development is very motivating, because Saïd and Saud will inspire other young Omanis to take up that job I love so much,” concluded Bruno. Yet if all shore-based jobs within a sailing team naturally revolve around the boats, not all of them necessarily imply a strong technical factor, as a well-oiled structure also relies on efficient organizers, planners and logistics experts. Just consider the Extreme 40 Sailing Series: in 2009, the Oman Sail Team had to make sure its two catamarans and all the spare parts - which amount to two containers of a total weight of around sixteen tons - reached each one of the six European venues on time for the events. The crews also have to be taken care of, and making travel arrangements, finding accommodation and being able to solve any problem locally is a job in itself, requiring a rational and organised mind, capable of anticipating every possible mishap. As sailors can often be heard saying, “Reaching the start line in time and fully prepared is the first challenge,” and a huge part of the success of that crucial first stage is down to the “shadow workers”!


© Richard Langdon




Although the structure’s setting, in portacabins stacked on top of each other at the far end of the marina, may be humble, the goals they have set and achieved for themselves are anything but. 2009 started with seven Omani sailors who were stretched between Extreme 40’s in Europe, training for the Clipper Race, circumnavigating the world non-stop and learning to be instructors. As a result, there was little opportunity to do anything else. Thus the first recruitment drive for more young, fit and committed Omanis began in earnest. The media team placed adverts in papers and magazines, radio stations announced the recruitment drive and the message was spread by word of mouth. Within two weeks, a total of six hundred

© Ingmar Jense

Sailing School was a revolving door of highly trained and motivated young Omanis as they headed for distant corners of the world or the Gulf for big boat racing or out into the local waters for training on dinghies. Complementing all these sailors were the shore based Omanis who fixed and maintained the boats with their unique skills or the sail making team who stitched torn sails ready for racing. At the end of 2009 a second recruitment drive took place and an unprecedented eight hundred CV’s were received from a wide cross-section of ages and professions. A similar selection process took place and as a result, the year ended with twelve new proud, if not slightly nervous, faces joining the Sailing School as the previous intake progressed from trainees to sailors, a very gratifying day for the Oman Sail Sailing School and especially for Oman itself.


Photos: © Lloyd Images

Omanis had applied to be one of the few given the chance to compete in the national team and eventually raise the Omani flag above their heads. These six hundred were whittled down through a process of elimination that included mental, physical and personality tests. On the final weekend, the remaining forty hopefuls were taken to a secluded beach where they were put through their paces on sailing boats, mental tests and physical trials. From here, a final twenty two were selected to be Oman Sail trainees and prove themselves as sailors. With the new intake of Omanis, Head Coach Mark ‘Corky’ Rhodes was joined by Neil Coxon as Director of Training and George Rice as Training Operations Manager. With the original Omani instructors, Ali Ambusaidi and Saleh Al Jabri, a strong team was in place to ensure that the new trainees were given the best training possible and that their foundations in the sport would be as strong as possible. After a month of intense training in the UK, the new trainees returned to Oman where they had a brief break before returning to the Sailing School where their strengths were analysed and their sailing paths were agreed upon. With opportunities on giant world class racing trimarans, exciting Extreme 40s, the competitiveness of Lasers and Hobie 16s and becoming instructors there was something for everyone and soon the

• Four of the sailors who were chosen for the offshore stream will see themselves on Majan or Musandam as they compete in the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race. • Twelve dinghy sailors will be training for the Asia Beach Games in the short term with Olympic dreams as the end goal for them. • Two sailors will continue to sail around the world in the Clipper Race. • Five sailors will compete in the month long Tour de France A La Voile (The Sailing Tour of France) with the hope of hosting an Oman version of the same race in the future. • Nine instructors will impart their knowledge and train more instructors for the Oman Sailing Schools which will open along the coast of Oman; seven by the end of 2015 are planned. • One sailor will be competing in the Extreme Sailing Series Europe on the Extreme 40s. • Two sail makers will prepare a loft in Muscat to maintain and repair sails for the Oman Sail fleet. • Two boat-builders will be on hand to support any of the teams with their skills developed from building Majan, working on Musandam and maintaining the dinghies and support boats in the Sailing School.







DEDICATION By the time the deadline for applications closed, the number of hopefuls had risen to almost one thousand and the daunting task of choosing a handful of new recruits loomed. From these CV’s, the training and coaching staff whittled away those who weren’t suited down to the first batch of one hundred and sixty young, enthusiastic and fit Omanis. Although the criteria were very definite and developed over the two previous selections, it was still a very difficult task to get to this number as the applicants’potential is huge and their commitment unshakeable. The one hundred and sixty shortlisted for phase one were invited to one of Muscat’s stadiums for a physical test to gauge their fitness and a faceto-face session to assess their attitude and personalities. Again, there were strict criteria and the questions asked were specifically chosen to elicit strong answers that would give the Sailing School team interviewing them a clear idea of their potential. During this first phase a system of accountability was put in place wherein each applicant was measured on their promptness, how much they encouraged their partners and how they fared in the physical tests. All current members of the Sailing School took part in these tests to display the level of dedication and commitment required from the applicants if they were successful. Out of these, the forty with the most

Photos: © Lloyd Images

potential were then invited to the second phase, a selection weekend which would put them all through their paces and let the best rise to the top. The weekend saw the forty hopefuls split into two groups as the Sailing School instructors, trainers and coaches put them through a series of physical and mental tests on Yiti beach, a few miles south of Muscat. The tests they had to undertake included team building, problem solving and sailing exercises. Whilst these were going on they were being constantly assessed on physical and mental prowess as well as their attitude and ability to gel with others. The Oman Sailing School Director of Training, Neil Coxon, who previously managed the world’s largest sailing centre for 8 years, was astounded by the level of sailing displayed by the first-time sailors, ‘I have spent many years around absolute beginners to sailing and I was constantly impressed by how quickly these guys picked up the basics and went sailing. I’m looking forward to seeing great things in the years to come from them.’ On returning to Muscat after the weekend, their assessment forms were studied and a final selection of 12 Omanis were chosen to represent Oman as instructors and sailors.


Photos: © Lloyd Images

From the very outset of a career with Oman Sail, all team members are made abundantly aware of the need for training; in fact it plays a big role in their initial selection. An average day for a school sailor starts at 5.50am when he joins his team mates at the Sultan Qaboos stadium for circuit training four days a week (Monday is a theory and maintenance day). For the rest of the week over twenty committed sailors do circuits, group sessions, aerobic training and swimming, depending on the schedule. By 7.30am they have packed up and are heading back to the Sailing School for breakfast and the rest of their day on the water or in the classroom. Outside this schedule the trainees are encouraged to maintain their fitness levels through cycling, running, hiking anything which will keep them on the top of their game. The breakdown of key areas for sailing are CV (Cardio-Vascular), weight training, core stability, swimming (CV, Core and low impact as well as creating more confidence in the water), and interval training to mimic the demands of racing with the explosive sections of the race course requiring full amounts of physical power. These are often followed by short, slower sections before another high activity section, especially on high performance dinghies, sports boats and for grinders on big boats. The physical training is worth nothing if it is not supported by a diet that complements the body’s needs. Explanations and tutorials are given on food combinations and what should be eaten, depending on whether they are warming up for exercise, during an event, or winding down from a period of high activity. Oman has a culture of congregating around food and much of it is less than conducive to energetic action, such as heavy rice dishes and glutinous sweets - good stored carbs for periods of fasting is the traditional fare. Breaking some of the sailors out of this habit, especially when family gatherings are at the core of Omani culture is hard, but the benefits of eating and drinking correctly are 34


POWER TRAINING showing themselves in practice. The benefit of rest is also stressed as the body needs to adapt, refuel and recover to work effectively in the long run. Majid Al Ghainami is one of the sailors who was chosen to compete in Lasers for the upcoming Asia Beach Games and has been working hard on getting to a competitive weight while maintaining the right balance of bulk and muscle. “I have always been interested in nutrition and treating my body with respect. The training we do at Oman Sail is incredibly tough but everyday I feel I can push myself a bit harder and a bit longer when I’m out racing the Laser. I like training, you enter the stadium and work out and you feel your body working and feel like you really did something. I go to bed exhausted but the next day I always wake up wanting to go back in and do it all again.”






From the outset, the programme received official support with the Ministry of Education endorsing the programme and personally advising heads of schools in the Muscat area on how to be involved. The aims of the Try Sailing course are to encourage children and young adults to experience sailing and to gain practical experience of teamwork and problem solving. Through a series of six sessions, students will gain technical expertise as well as develop leadership skills that will boost self-confidence at the same time as gaining life lessons while learning a new and exciting sport. This six-week course of one session per week at the Oman Sailing School is to give the students their foundation knowledge in sailing. Students will know the basic parts of the boat and will be able to sail with little or no guidance from the instructors in gentle winds.

© Herbert Fernandes


Transferable Skills the students will learn: Teamwork: Each boat will have 2 children sailing, so this encourages them to work together. On and off the water the children will have to work efficiently as a team in order to complete tasks such as rigging the boats before they go sailing. Leadership: When the child is steering the boat, they are in control of their actions. During the sessions, students will get the opportunity to be the lead boat when completing exercises on the water. Problem Solving: Every session will pose different challenges for the children both on and off the water. Our instructors will encourage the children to solve these issues and provide guidance along the way. Although the programme is currently attended by visiting schools; other establishments such as colleges, universities, language schools and societies are also welcome to be included in the programme and tailor-made courses can be designed to suit individual group needs. As part of the plans to increase the longevity of what the students have learned, Neil Coxon, Director of Training, has implemented two additional facets to the programme. March 2010 will see the inaugural Schools Regatta in which all the schools who have taken part in Try Sailing, put their best five sailors forward to compete against the other schools. A community club will also be established that will give students the opportunity to continue their sailing outside the school curriculum. The club will be open during weekends and they will be able to bring family members with them to share the experience. 19% of all Omani students who have come to the Try Sailing programme have been female. Principal of the Zahara School for Girls, Sakina Al Harthy, who is also sailing with the students, praises the life skills the students are learning. “We were delighted when Oman Sail invited us to come sailing. The girls have gained so much from taking part in this activity. Sailing has taught them leadership skills, as they are sailing their own boat under the close supervision of the instructors. Their problem solving skills have improved, as the instructors encourage students to analyse their performance as they sail, whilst providing constant guidance and encouragement. Finally the girls work much better in a team, as when launching and landing the boats, it is essential they work together.”

Photos: © Lloyd Images


© Lloyd Images


© Ingmar Jense


In the words of the Training Director of the Oman Sailing School, Neil Coxon, ‘Musaab is one of the most natural sailors I have ever seen. After many years and seeing many kids step into a boat, I am confident that Musaab will be one of the young stars of Oman in the near future.’ Although only 20 years old, he projects a very mature personality just as so many young Omani men do. Also in keeping with his peers, he has a strong tie to the sea that played a pivotal role in his childhood and everything that surrounded it. Born and raised in Sidab, on one of the bays near His Majesty the Sultan of Oman’s Palace and the gates of the old city, his father was a fisherman who worked hard before and after the country’s renaissance in the early 1970s. After school and at weekends Musaab would help his father with the family business, whether it was out fishing in his father’s fishing boat or on the shore helping to mend nets and pots. His coaches at the Oman Sailing School put much of his natural balance and aptitude on the Laser down to all the time he spent on the water as a child. It was a chance mention by a friend that brought Musaab to the Oman Sailing School. He had often seen the original Oman Sail sailors such as Ali Ambusaidi, Saleh Al Jabri and Abdullah Al Busaidi sailing whilst out fishing and had mentioned to a friend how much fun it looked. It was that same friend that told him, only two months later, that Oman Sail was looking for new sailors to join the team. As someone who revels

in challenges and has the courage to succeed, the prospect of the adventures that Oman Sail was offering was overwhelming. Although he was studying computer technology in University, he signed up for selection immediately and literally sailed through to the final group. When Musaab first started at the Oman Sailing School he was taken by the Hobie 16 catamarans with their bright sails and turn of speed so asked to train on them with the end goal of competing in the Asia Beach Games. After a while he discovered that crewed boats were not the way forward for him and he asked if he could try out the single-handed Laser instead, also an Asia Beach Games class. He immediately knew he had found the right boat for him and since then has only focused on mastering what is one of the most popular classes of sailing boat around the world and a firm fixture on the Olympic sailing scene. The lure of going offshore on one of the massive trimarans or going round the world in the Clipper Race were never options for Musaab, it was the Laser and the technical challenges it offers which appealed to him. Although a little light for the Laser at 65kg’s, he feels that this will play to his advantage in the consistently light airs of Oman and the Gulf where he will be doing much of his sailing in the lead up to the Asia Beach Games. He recalls the words of His Majesty’s speech (see page 60) whenever he steps into his boat and his dream to fulfill those words are his inspiration. He sees the

The Racer Asia Beach Games as his chance to bring recognition to Oman and hopes his country will succeed in sailing as well as the other sports that are being competed in. Physically he is preparing by spending time in the gym working on the different disciplines needed to sail a Laser. He has also been allocated his ‘race boat’ by Oman Sail for which he takes full responsibility in terms of keeping it in winning form and ensuring that there will be no gear failure whilst racing. In the intense conditions of Oman where UV is strong and the sun shines 365 days a year, he must be constantly alert to wear and tear over and above the average sailor. After the Asia Beach Games Musaab hopes to dedicate his time to training young sailors on Lasers and hopefully finding someone who is of a high enough standard to represent Oman at the Olympic Games in 2016. At 20 he feels he is young enough to train for them himself, but he prefers the chance to use the knowledge he has gained from top international coaching and recycling it back into the Oman Sailing School, all whilst still sailing professionally for his country! With a new group of young Omani sailors joining the School in January, Musaab already wants to share some of what he has learned. If asked, he will urge them to be ready for the physical training, the intense concentration needed to win, the courage to step outside their comfort zone and the endurance to see it through and benefit from what they are being taught.



The Instructor

© Ingmar Jense


Originally from Nizwa, in Oman’s interior, he is a married man and father to three children; two boys and a girl. He endured a childhood typical of the times with the family moving from their home in Nizwa to the cooler climes of Tanzania during the summer. His father was a general trader who bought and sold goods from both countries such as clothing, foodstuffs, household items and anything else for

© Lloyd Images

which there was a need. Due to the nature of the business and the hard-times they lived in, Ali left school early to work for his father. Soon afterwards he chose to enlist in the Air Force as an Adventure Training Officer where he studied when he could and was awarded his Grade 12 diploma. Ali remained in the Air Force for the next twenty-two years where he continued to support his parents as well as start his own family. When Oman Sail was being formed, a letter was written to all squadron leaders inviting any of their officers to apply for Oman Sail and make a career in sailing. Ali had been sailing before as part of his job and had enjoyed it so much the opportunity was one he could not ignore. With his background and approachable personality he was immediately groomed as an instructor and now plays a vital role in the school, training the new recruits as well as the schoolchildren who come to do the Try Sailing programme. Ali is extremely proud of being a sailing instructor and is aware of the pivotal role he plays in the development of the sailors who are going offshore racing on the Extreme 40s or any other aspect of the Oman Sail programme.

‘Without the instructors continually pushing the sailors they will never get better,’ says Ali, ‘even the offshore sailors need the foundation of an instructor in the school.’ Ali also stresses the importance of teaching young Omani sailors about their heritage and making sure they respect it. He feels that the best advice he can give students is that their innate skill has been inherited from their grandfathers, and their grandfathers before them, and that spirit is in them they must find it and realise it. Ali’s ultimate ambition is to be the first Omani solo offshore sailor, as that fits in with his grounding and love of adventure. Realistically the next five years will see him develop as an instructor and work hard training the schoolchildren and the Omani sailors joining the school and helping them achieve their targets, whether those ambitions lie on dinghies for the Olympics or going around the world on Majan. He is also hoping to be an integral part of the new schools that will open, in particular the one in Salalah. In the meantime he continues to bring out the smiles and ambitions of schoolchildren and the best of the abilities of the Omani sailors.


FUTURE he Jewel of Muscat’s reconstruction represents a major feat of maritime engineering, taking her blueprint from a 9th-century wreck of a ship that was discovered in 1998 in Indonesian waters, which was originally carrying more than 60,000 pieces of Chinese ceramics, silver and gold artifacts, spices and other commodities, now known as the Tang Treasure. Tom Vosmer, Construction Director for the project is one of the pioneering forces behind the entire plan. “This project presents a unique opportunity for Oman to showcase itself to the world as a modern nation that protects and invests in its traditional heritage. The project can be a foundation for a revival of the traditional boatbuilding industry in Oman, and a chance to inspire and educate young Omanis, provide jobs and create a vision of what Oman and Omanis can accomplish. In short, the project should be viewed beyond just the production of a 9th-century ship that sails to Singapore, but as a focus on something for which Oman can be justifiably proud, which can form part of the nucleus of a larger program and vision for the revival of Oman’s maritime eminence.” The Jewel of Muscat will set sail from Muscat in February 2010 and travel along the same trade routes across the Indian Ocean as the ancient merchants of the 9th century. She is expected to reach Singapore by July 2010 after stopping in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia before reaching her final destination of Singapore. Once in Singapore she will be officially handed over as a gift from the Government of Oman to the people of Singapore and housed in a museum along with the treasure from the original wreck. Purpose of the project … The Jewel of Muscat Project is a joint initiative between Oman and Singapore involving the reconstruction of a 9th-century sewn-plank ship on the beach of Qantab village, just outside Muscat. The 18-metre-long hand-built hull was launched into the Gulf of Oman, and she will set sail on an epic voyage that will finish in Singapore; one of Oman’s oldest trading partners.

© Herbert Fernandes

Of historical significance … The team on the ship will use 9th-century navigation techniques, including kamal, a small piece of wood connected to a piece of string that is used to calculate latitude. Observation of the sky and sea colour, marine and bird life, and wind direction will also be used as navigational aids. Modern instruments will be also used for safety and to ascertain the accuracy of traditional navigation techniques. Building a milestone … The construction of the Jewel of Muscat was done exclusively by hand using natural products and tools. The hull planks, which fit together perfectly to ensure they are watertight, were sewn together with coconut fibre, without nails to seal the joints and seams. The wood is protected by fish oil and traditional antifouling of goat fat mixed with lime was used below the waterline. The sails are made from palm leaves. The boat builders who worked on the ship were chosen for their experience and skill, and the > > > 40



© Ingmar Jense

Photos: © Lloyd Images & Ingmar Jense

team comprised a number of different nationalities, each working in harmony to build this historically significant vessel. Ancient impressions … The Jewel of Muscat is a fantastic and inspiring project. It brings the maritime heritage of Oman into the modern day and reflects the hard work that Omani forefathers undertook to make Oman the great country it is today. Saleh Said Al Jabri, formerly second in command of Shabab Oman (Oman’s sail training ship) and an instructor with Oman Sail, has been selected as the Captain of the Jewel of Muscat on her voyage to Singapore. Saleh, who brings a wealth of experience to his position through his experience of sailing, shares with us the importance of the Jewel of Muscat. It gives me great pride to be part of a project that was entrusted by His Majesty. I am honoured to be selected as the Captain of the Jewel of Muscat and nothing will make me more proud than steering her along the old trading routes from Muscat to Singapore via India and Malaysia, just as our forefathers did before us. Moment of pride … Since I was chosen to sail the Jewel of Muscat safely and protect this gift from His Majesty all the way to Singapore, I have mixed emotions running through my 42

mind. I hope the spirit of the project will carry on after the ship has berthed in Singapore and is on display. This should be a part of the big picture of Oman’s Renaissance and the catalyst to seeing more Omani craftsmen building and racing traditional ships in the future.

universities and colleges have made regular visits to the site to witness the construction of this magnificent ship, and to see her in the water and sailing. Visitors learn about ancient ship building methods without the use of nails or screws.

The big challenge … The wind will be one of the toughest aspects to predict as the Jewel of Muscat depends entirely on it! Communication will also be difficult with an international crew, many of whom will only get to know each other over the course of the journey. The only concession to comfort is the addition of a deck so we have some shade and protection from the elements. There is no air conditioning, toilet or even stove on board.

A visual treat … One of the primary purposes of this project is to increase awareness of our country’s rich maritime cultural heritage in all Omanis, bringing it alive in front of their eyes. I want everyone to see this magnificent ship before she sets sail, as after that she will no longer be seen in Omani waters. We will undergo extensive sea trials before we set sail for Singapore to check how the ship behaves in different weather conditions. The journey to Singapore is about 4-5 months during which my crew and the ship are of utmost importance to me, more than my own life!

An epic start … The project began in Oman in mid June 2008 with the development of a model and the search for materials used on the original wreck, which were identified through scientific analysis. Afzelia Africana was sourced from Ghana for the planking, teak from Burma and India for the through beams, rudder and masts, poona from India for the spars and sidr from Oman for the frames. Education is of paramount importance … The education aspect is of prime importance and students from a number of schools, academies,

Future perfect … After I have completed the voyage to Singapore, I want to visit education establishments to talk about the importance of the project. I want to make sure that young Omanis are encouraged enough to go out sailing for their country’s benefit. This article first appeared in Crème de la Crème magazine.



The Captain

SALEH AL JABRI WAS BORN, AND SPENT HIS YOUNGER YEARS, JUST TEN METRES AWAY FROM THE WATERFRONT IN THE PICTURESQUE BAY OF HARAMEL. Located just outside the walls of old Muscat and only minutes away from the palace of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, Haramel still retains old world charm and values. Every morning young men go out after daybreak prayers with their fathers, grandfathers and sometimes even their great-grandfathers to catch fish using nothing more complex than handlines, a hook and some bait. This is still the way of life for many Omanis and even the ones who work in the banks, ministries and multinational corporations are only a generation away from early starts and the smell of the sea. For many such as Saleh, who will soon celebrate his fortieth birthday, the sea has never been far away, to the extent that when he was seven he started going to school by boat in the neighbouring bay of Sidab. It was during these commutes to school that he began a lifelong love of the sea and at the same time he started to go on fishing trips with his father. After school Saleh joined the Royal Navy of Oman, in the footsteps of his brother who was already a Naval sailor. In those days the Royal Navy of Oman was based in old Muscat harbour so it was close to home. He was encouraged by his parents and grandparents to follow a career in the Navy and maintain his links with the sea. In 1987 Saleh joined the Navy training ship, Shabab Oman, and discovered his true vocation in life; sailing. Shabab Oman is a barquentine training ship built in Scotland as a schooner in 1971 and bought by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in 1977. Meaning ‘Youth of Oman’, Shabab Oman was taken around the world as a training vessel for up to twenty-four Omani youths and Saleh was the Training Officer from 1987 to 2007. Whilst onboard Shabab Oman, he visited forty countries and crossed the Atlantic twice. This has given him the insight and respect into different cultures that he imparts daily to the Oman Sailing School students. Saleh currently maintains the rank of Lieutenant in the Royal Navy of Oman and became a part of Oman Sail as part of a secondment process when Oman Sail was formed.

Since the beginning of his career with Oman Sail, Saleh has been one of the key members and has become an internationally recognized instructor. He has been an integral part of developing, inspiring and training the new wave of young Omanis who have joined the ranks of Oman Sail and has become a constant source of knowledge for them. With his experience in the Navy, on Shabab Oman and as an instructor, he has not only taught them the ins and outs of how to sail, but has also instilled in them a respect for their maritime heritage and a passion for maintaining it. In the middle of 2009 Saleh was asked to be the captain of the Jewel of Muscat on her journey from Muscat to Singapore via India and Malacca. To be asked to do so was a proud moment for Saleh and he has embraced the prospect heartily. He sees the voyage as a culmination of his life’s work thus far, after thirty years at sea and more than 125,000 nautical miles under his feet. A voyage of this length and importance takes careful preparation and detailed training, while the mental and physical demands of the voyage will be constant companions. Saleh will call upon his inner strength and resolve; he has however total trust in his faith to be his steadfast ally and source of courage. After the Jewel of Muscat has safely berthed in Singapore, Saleh does not believe his journey will have ended. He sees it as the most important voyage of his career and the overriding responsibility will affect him in a positive way. He hopes to be able to spend as long as possible working with Oman Sail and visiting schools, academies, colleges and anywhere else he can talk about his journey, how it affected him and how it can inspire everyone else, especially the young Omanis. He will encourage the youth not to back away from life’s challenges but to embrace them and use them to their advantage. There is no doubt that Saleh will make a fine ambassador for all Omanis, not just the young, and that his name, along with his peers, will be remembered in the pages of Oman’s long and proud history. Photos: © Lloyd Images


A HISTORY WITH THE SEA BY MIKE WILSON The Sultanate of Oman has a long, diverse and far-reaching maritime history. The earliest evidence of their coastal trade dates back to the Bronze Age, and a Sumerian text mentions that the great king Sargon of Akkad boasted that ships from Majan (of which Oman was a part), amongst those from other countries, tied up at his wharves. By the mid-eighth century their ships and merchants had reached the distant ports of China, spreading Islam through the Far East on their way, bringing about that exchange between cultures that furthers mankind’s knowledge and development. Papermaking was introduced to the Arab world from China at this time. Omanis have traded with the East Coast of Africa for over two millennia, but it was in the course of the latter part of the last millennium that they became famous, not just as intrepid sailors and ship builders, but as a people at the heart of the Indian Ocean trade. In the nineteenth century the Omani navy, which consisted of modern European-designed warships, helped ensure the safety of the expanding monsoon trade between India, Africa and the Middle East. By 1840, Oman’s first envoy to the United States of America had arrived in New York. This is the extraordinary story of Oman, a largely desert country whose sea captains and sailors came to dominate the Indian Ocean and its monsoonal trade links. This same seafaring spirit is very much alive today as its young men embrace the new challenges of modern competitive sailing. With over 1700 kilometres of coastline, which offers some outstanding natural harbours, and a pivotal location on the edge of the Indian Ocean, it is not hard to see why the early Omanis turned to the sea and the lands beyond in their pursuit of trade. In many ways their expertise as ship builders, sailors and navigators helped shape their national character. Oman’s principal harbours and ports were found all along its coast from Khasab with its numerous khors and inlets on the Musandam peninsula, to Sohar, Muttrah, Muscat, Qalhat, and Sumharam in Dhofar. Places like Ras al Hadd, Bandar Jissah and Bandar Khayran, though of less value as trading ports, being locked in by mountains or desert, were nonetheless excellent staging posts for littoral sailors and vital havens in times of turbulent weather. In a gradual process over countless generations, Omanis’ shipbuilding and navigational skills, combined with their deep understanding of the region’s seasonal conditions, currents and winds, were honed to a fine art as Omani seafarers became masters in the exploitation of the monsoon winds that linked India, East Africa and Arabia. The natural harbour of Sumharam was once unquestionably the most important port on the whole of the Arabian coast and its wealth and fame was based almost entirely on one product — frankincense. Frankincense is the harvested and dried resin of the Boswellia sacra. The tree is hardy and stunted, has minimal foliage and sheds its thin bark in strips that flutter and rattle in the winds of the Negd desert and slopes of the Dhofar jebel. Frankincense (Liban in Arabic) was once more valuable than gold because of its use in ceremonial rituals in places of worship as far flung as Rome, Egypt, the Holy Land and all points east, even as far as China.

© Kat Birtwistle


OMAN - A HISTORY WITH THE SEA 45 The famed and remarkable Queen of Saba (Sheba) and her contemporary, King Solomon of Jerusalem, consolidated the land routes and the protection of the frankincense trade across Arabia to the Holy Land in about 900 BC, while it is thought the rest was exported by sea. From 100 BC to AD 400, Sumharam was partly controlled by the kings of Shabwa. During the eighth century Omani sailors had reached many of the ports of China. In this gradual process of extending their maritime activities further eastwards, it was inevitable that they should establish small trading missions with an Omani representative in the principal ports of the Far East. Legend has it that arguably the most famous sailor of all time, Sindbad, who many believe hailed from Oman’s Batinah port of Sohar, sailed to China. A wealth of Arabian seafaring folklore combine in the stories of Sindbad’s bizarre adventures during his seven famous voyages but none of his tales mentions China as a destination, rather his shipwrecks threw him up on the shores of locations that were every bit as fictional as Gulliver’s Lilliput. The trade with India and Africa A small but highly profitable Omani export to India from the twelfth century onwards was in thoroughbred Arab horses. Sometimes they numbered as few as thirty a year, and this at a time when huge herds of horses numbering tens of thousands were being driven south from the central Asian plains to the same markets. Thousands were lost during this lengthy and difficult journey. The horses from the steppes and plains were used as mounts for the common cavalry, while Arab thoroughbreds were the pride of maharajas and kings. If trade to distant lands was a stimulus to the development and refinement of Oman’s ocean-going mercantile fleet, it was not the only factor. In the wake of expanding trade came a parallel need to develop an effective navy to protect both trade and the country’s sovereign integrity. Oman had been the victim of foreign invasion by sea on a number of occasions — there were three waves of lasting and deep incursions by the Persians, and in the sixteenth century, the Portuguese seized and occupied key ports and towns on the coast and interior. Given the subsequent havoc wreaked by Portuguese conquests in the region, it is ironic that Vasco da Gama was reputed to have been guided around the Cape of Good Hope and beyond by the famous Omani seaman and navigator, Ahmed bin Majid. Each of these occupations were eventually repulsed, but the Omanis realised that as a largely coastal nation, their long term safety from seaborne invasion could only be secured if they were to have a strong navy capable of meeting that threat. Having expelled the Portuguese from their homeland, Omanis also ousted them from their settlements in Zanzibar, Lamu, Pemba and Mombasa in East Africa and much of the area then became part of Oman. It would be a mistake to think that Oman’s dominance of East Africa was confined to its coasts. Omani traders had spread and established themselves deep within Central Africa. An excellent example of this was illustrated when the explorer Henry Morton Stanley, of Dr. Livingstone fame, made

the arduous and incredibly dangerous first European east-west crossing of Africa. As he acknowledged himself, he could only do so with an intimate team of the toughest and most intrepid men, men who had knowledge of routes into the interior, and established relationships with the tribes along the way before they finally reached unknown territory. His brave and loyal chief lieutenants were four Omanis who were recruited in Zanzibar. In spite of an appalling death toll from months of continuous attacks by hostile tribes, to say nothing of disease and atttacks by wild animals, all four survived and returned to Zanzibar from the mouth of the Congo by ship. A long-lasting and far-reaching seafaring tradition The Sultan who was paramount in expanding the country’s formidable merchant fleet and navy of the nineteenth century was Sayyid Said bin Sultan, whose long and inspired reign ran from 1804-1856. His tomb lies deep within the walls of the fortress at Al Hazm near Rustaq. He was clearly a ruler with many statesman-like qualities, but also a tough, practical leader with a formidable personality. In a joint operation with the British against pirates, he was in the thick of the fighting. When he received a musket ball through his wrist, his antagonist was so close that Sayyid Said was also badly burnt by the gunpowder. Parts of the Gulf and both barren shores of the Strait of Hormuz were dominated by his naval bases. From Mogadishu to Mombasa it was the same, and Sayyid Said often travelled with his powerful navy as it patrolled between its bases throughout the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. In 1834 Sayyid Said presented the massive seventy-four gun ship of the line, Liverpool to King William IV of the United Kingdom as a gift. An American merchant visiting Zanzibar in the 1830s described Sayyid Said’s arrival

An Omani ship shelters for the summer in the Rufiji Delta

there on board a warship of sixty-four guns, accompanied by three frigates and many other smaller battlecraft. With them was an army of five thousand Omani fighting men on board over a hundred transport boats. Oman’s importance as the paramount regional naval and mercantile power is demonstrated by its foreign relations of the time. In 1840 Hajji Ahmed bin Nu‘man Al Ka‘abi arrived in New York on board the merchant ship Sultana, as an envoy to the United States of America. Although of European design, the Sultana was built in the Mazagon Dockyard in Bombay in 1833. She arrived in New York having taken only eighty-seven days from Zanzibar, a particularly fast passage. These first visitors to New York, with their flowing robes, turbans, khanjars and kitarahs (daggers and curved swords), caused a huge stir everywhere they went. They were followed by crowds and stared at, until American

An illustration of some of the trade routes navigated by traders

hospitality stepped in and moved the Sultana to the naval dockyard, where their guests could be suitably looked after. Sayyid Said‘s gifts to President Jefferson included two Arab thoroughbreds, a gold-mounted sword, jewels, and perfumes. In return he was presented with a pleasure barge, rifles and revolvers. However this was a trading as well as a diplomatic mission, as Sayyid Said wished to buy modern weapons for his struggle against the Portuguese in Mozambique. For this purpose the Sultana also carried a cargo that included 1,000 sacks of the finest Omani dates, carpets from Iran, coffee from Yemen, spices from the East, and hides and ivory from Africa that were all sold to make the necessary purchases.This year, Jewel of Muscat, a reconstruction of a ninth-century Arab sailing ship, built in Oman, will embark on an historic voyage from Oman to Singapore in the same spirit as the Omanis sailed 2,000 years ago.

© Harvey Pincis




© Lloyd Images


The Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race shows massive potential for one-design fleet racing.








INDIAN OCEAN 5 CAPES RACE This epic race will take competitors from the tropical waters of Oman past Ras al Hadd (literally ‘Cape’ in Arabic) down to the tip of South Africa before crossing the frozen and treacherous Southern Ocean and into the warmth of Cape Leeuwin and Australia’s west coast. From here the boats sail north to Cape Piai in the Malacca Straits opposite Singapore and up to Cape Comorin at the southern tip of India before returning the welcoming shores of Oman and the starting point of the journey in Muscat. The journey, with stopovers in The Maldives, Cape Town, Fremantle and Singapore, is expected to take up to 3 months and will rival many of the established race courses for attracting a global audience and following the boats as they overcome nature’s elements. Total distance: 15,000 nautical miles (27,780 kilometres)

The 5 Capes In Detail FIVE VERY DIFFERENT LOCATIONS AND CHALLENGES FOR THE CREWS RAS AL HADD - Literally meaning ‘the cape’ in Arabic, it is the easternmost point of the Arabian Peninsula and Oman is very proud that this is the point where the suns first rays touch land on rising. It is an unspoilt part of the world and one of the largest nesting sites for endangered Green turtles, with over 20,000 females returning annually to lay their eggs. The waters around this area are popular for snorkelling, diving and fishing as it marks the convergence point of many currents resulting in an abundance of sea life. For the Omani crews on board both Majan and Musandam this will be their last sight of home until their return journey up the Arabian Sea.

Ras Al Hadd

CAPE AGULHAS - Cape Agulhas is 170 kilometres from Cape Town and marks the dividing line between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Cape Agulhas is renowned by sailors as one of the most challenging convergence points of any oceans in the world. Agulhas features a gently curving coastline and rocky beach that makes it different from most of the other major capes which are barren rocky outcrops.

Cape Agulhas

Cape Leeuwin

Cape Piai

Cape Comorin


© Greg O’Beirne

© Malekhanif

CAPE LEEUWIN - A welcome sight for any sailor, despite its stark location and rough conditions, Cape Leeuwin marks the end of the Southern Ocean and the start of the Indian Ocean. The most south-westerly point of the Australian mainland, the cape is marked by a solitary lighthouse. From Cape Leeuwin the crews of Majan and Musandam will sail north to the coastal city of Fremantle, where they will enjoy a short stopover before sailing to Cape Piai.

CAPE PIAI - Marking the southernmost point of the Malaysian peninsula, Cape Piai , or Tanjung Piai in the local Malaysian dialect, is also the southernmost point of mainland Asia. Surrounded by mangrove forests and featuring popular seafood restaurants on rickety wooden jetties, the cape sits directly opposite the Asian financial powerhouse of Singapore. CAPE COMORIN - Also on a southernmost tip, this time of India, Cape Comorin is the final cape of the race and is referred to as Kanyakumari locally. Cape Comorin sits on the confluence point of the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Mannar and is a centre for pearl fishing.


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Total distance: 1,700 nautical miles (3,150 kilometres)






Established as a route in 2009 by Majan, the Tour of Arabia has high potential as an internationally recognised race with a high level of participation from Gulf based teams as well as those from further afield. The format is perfectly suited to being adaptable with long and short passage races as well as inshore racing and display sailing. Plans are well advanced in the development of running this race on 30 foot racing monohulls, country against country along this route.

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Established by Dame Ellen MacArthur in 2006, this h route u starting n in Yokohama m and ending in Singapore is one of the most engaging. Challenges from g come o m sea conditions on and winds, but also shipping, currents and navigational hazards. r

This challenging al coastall sprint from f m Oman’s most northern n point, Musandam, us am, past the capital city ity of Muscat and down n to the southernmost city of Salalah offers a challenging set e southe th ff this race would of conditions. c n From multihulls to monohulls, oh give a range and make it an e of o wind directions and strengths en attractive addition to the international race d a calendar.

Total distance: 6,800 nautical miles (10,943 kilometres)

Total distance: 835 nautical miles le (1,546 kilometres)





The ultimate achievement for any offshore sailing programme, racing round the world non-stop in identical A100’s or alone to beat the time set by Musandam in 2009 could be a possibility. As far as catching the attention of the world, there is no bigger achievement. Total distance: 21,000 nautical miles (39,000 kilometres)






oday’s sponsorship or partnership landscape is a rich tapestry of old and new. Old in the sense that some opportunities offer the traditional fixed menu of rights and assets, whilst the more successful and innovative rights-holders (such as Oman Sail) are spearheading a new wave of sponsor management. Sponsorship is content for marketing activity; it gives partners an opportunity to grow their business within targeted audiences and offers them connectivity with the customer. If sponsorship is rendered properly, it is a direct dialogue with communities and consumers: an obvious and distinct advantage over advertising which is a one-way conversation with no emotional resonance. With a world class race fleet, comprehensive international race calendar and some of the best sailors in the world competing and training with young Omanis on the world stage, Oman Sail extends this world class approach with a highly experienced commercial team drawing talent from around the world. An organisation that has positioned itself to deliver results. Oman Sail won the iShares Cup last year, In parallel, it is ramping up its commitment to offshore racing with the recent launch of Majan the Arabian 100 trimaran. Majan herself has taken part in several events since she was launched, most notably the Tour of Arabia and the Dubai-Muscat Race. In 2010 she will establish an innovative new race, the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race in February, “Sponsorship is a vital part of our program. Last year our partners were predominately supporting us on a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) basis. CSR partners are very important, however we are now signing agreements in which we are contracted to deliver a commercial return, which is a stepped change. We ensure we understand what our partners need, and can adapt our plans to deliver, we measure the results and feedback. Our interesting unique offering to sponsors is we are spanning the spectrum of the sport from beginners to elite, we may race across the globe but our home is in a commercially interesting part of the world”

David Graham, CEO, Oman Sail

and take part in the Route du Rhum with Sidney Gavignet helming at the end of the year. Interwoven into all these is a significant focus on developing the next generation of Omani athletes that will take on the challenges of competing on an international stage for their country. Oman Sail has a very active sailing school in Muscat and will be launching sailing schools along the coast of Oman making sailing accessible to all Omanis, removing any barriers currently holding young people back from participating in the sport. Once they have learnt the skills, a community sailing club makes boats available for them to continue the sport which will ensure retention and long term development. Through participation there are huge spin-off benefits to the community; © Lloyd Images

Steven Thomas, CEO, Renaissance Services, co-sponsors of the Extreme 40 Renaissance in the iShares Cup 2009:

including (but not limited to) a development of life skills such as teamwork, leadership, discipline, endeavour and a reduction in obesity in young people- all sought after values within commercial and social environments. Another core

“What use a memory of past glories, without a plan of action to give it meaning? What

component to Oman Sail s activities is within the national school curriculum. In

use a cultural treasure, without a determination to enrich others? The Oman Sail project

2009 Oman Sail began offering free sailing lessons to schools within the Muscat

encapsulates all the current reality and future aspirations of Oman’s progress; and, in

area, the take-up has been impressive and now there are hundreds of students in

doing so, showcases Oman in the most positive fashion on an international stage. For

boats learning to sail. As part of the curriculum, children gain an understanding

Renaissance, sponsorship is not just about the wonderful billboards of sails in full wind

of the cultural heritage of Oman and how important their country s maritime

with ever-increasing international exposure. That is fantastic for Oman and for Oman

history is to their identity.

Sail’s sponsors. Sponsoring something that is focused on promoting Oman and developing

Oman Sail s multi-layered approach within the Omani community offers

Omani human potential is totally relevant to Renaissance’s values and is at the heart of our

corporate organisations an opportunity to partner with a unique project that

corporate social responsibility programme.”

has an unconditional commitment to Oman, its youth and their education. It

Renaissance Services co-sponsored the Extreme 40 Renaissance which came

reaches out beyond the traditional boundaries of a sport , it has real traction with

third in the iShares Cup 2009. They are also sponsoring Ahmed Al Maamari and

the local communities, is making waves globally and is now a very interesting

Abdullah Al Busaidi in their quest to sail round the world in the Clipper Race 09-10 .

marketing tool for organisations.



Bandar Khayran at sunset

tark beauty and vastly contrasting landscapes typify Oman; arid desert, secret oases, awe-inspiring mountains and a bountiful shoreline. These diverse features create habitats for a wealth of wildlife, fauna, flora and ecosystems unique to Oman. On land, plants, insects and animals of a stunning diversity thrive. In the ocean, coral reefs that churn the turquoise sea into surf break onto white sandy beaches. Whales and dolphins are a common sight and the sea is teeming with tropical fish. Turtles nest in numbers matched by no other country on the planet. Alongside this natural wealth is the Omani culture as rich as the sea, mountain and desert environments put together. The coastline of Oman extends to over 1,700 kilometres, most of which borders the Indian Ocean. Until recently, much of Oman was undiscovered by tourists but the ports of Oman have been a destination for sea-faring traders since the dawn of time. Today, the coastline remains unspoilt, hardly touched by the ravages of industry. Oman offers some of the cleanest, most stunning beaches a visitor could hope to see. Weekend picnics and barbecues are popular amongst the locals but Oman is purposely not a mass tourist location. Many coves are perfect for snorkeling or beachcombing and with gentle shelves, are safe for children. FASCINATING MUSCAT Muscat is the capital and by far the largest city in Oman. There are over a million inhabitants and a metropolitan area of 1,500 square kilometers. Muscat has an international airport with direct flights to destinations all over the world including many direct flights to Europe, The Gulf and Asia courtesy of the national carrier, Oman Air. The capital has all of the usual facilities of a large city; international banks, leading hotels and retail shopping along old streets and modern shopping malls but the city retains much of its old world charm and has some fabulous buildings and public areas. The Grand Mosque is the most impressive building in the capital and is the third largest mosque in the world. It covers 40,000 square metres but the landscaped site is ten times the size of the building, equivalent to 40 football pitches. The Grand Mosque can accommodate up to 20,000 worshippers at one time, male and female. The interior is panelled with white and grey marble and ceramic floral patterns adorn its arches in a variety of classical Persian designs. The ceilings are inspired by the ancient Omani forts and the mihrab (a niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla; that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca) in the main prayer hall, is framed by Quranic verses and gilded ceramic details. The colossal dome comprises a series of ornate, engraved stained glass triangles within a framework of marble columns, and an impressive gold plated crystal chandelier hangs down a full 14 metres. It is made of Swarovski crystals and lit by 1,200 dimmable lightbulbs. A major feature of the main prayer hall is the hand-made Persian carpet consisting of 1,700,000 knots, weighing 21 tonnes and made in a single piece, measuring 70 x 60 metres, it took 4 years and 600 weavers to complete. Muscat has a huge variety of museums. To discover the rich cultural heritage of Oman the Bait al Zubair museum is a must; it houses one of the finest collections of artefacts from all over the Sultanate such as Omani weaponry, jewelry, costumes and domestic utensils chronicling the history of Oman. There is also a stunning collection of photography depicting Oman at the start of the 20th century. Old Muscat is located on the waterfront and the Corniche along the natural harbour is a place for Omanis to take an evening stroll with family and friends. It has recently been renovated to provide excellent facilities including picnic © Johan Palsson

© Lloyd Images


The impressive chandelier of the Grand Mosque

areas and children’s playgrounds and is an excellent location to while away the hours. Just outside the Old Town is the Sultan’s Palace, the Al Alam Royal Palace, which stands at the head of the natural deep water harbour and is guarded on either side by the twin forts of Mirani and Jelali. Set in beautifully manicured landscaped gardens, the palace is often used by the Sultan to welcome foreign dignitaries. Built in 1972, the palace boasts blue pillars, wrapped in wrought iron with extensive gold leaf work. This was one of Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s first projects and the vivid design and floral gardens are a statement that echoes the colourful nature of the Omani people. Further along the coast from the palace are some of the most spectacular sailing grounds for cruising yachts. The shoreline is defined by steep cliffs and there are a myriad of secluded bays with remote sandy beaches that can only be reached by sea. Sea life is in abundance making this area ideal for fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving. FISHERMAN’S SUR Sur is the capital city of the Sharkiya Region located on the Indian Ocean about 220 km southeast of the Omani capital Muscat. The city has a natural harbour offering protection from the Indian Ocean and has been a fishing port for centuries. Sur has a vibrant fish market and a reputation as a major dhow building centre, the traditional boats that have been used in the region since the 6th century. From Muscat there are two good roads to Sur, the shortest route is the new coastal road via Quriyat, the road surface is of the highest quality with plenty of service stations and much of the highway is dual carriageway. It is tempting to drive straight to Sur but there are some great sites along the way. Several wadis (dry river beds) are within minutes from the main coast road that are surrounded by greenery, especially date palms. These are well worth the effort to find, typically a wadi is located in a mountain gorge, a scene reminiscent of a biblical location with a calm serenity to match. Flowers and fauna are in abundance as are wild life. Cool water permeates from the mountain and the surrounding cliffs offer almost permanent shade from the sun’s rays. These effects create a totally different ecosystem to the surrounding arid and desolate rocky slopes. Most of the shore line along the coastal route to Sur is untouched, there are some remote sandy beaches and rocky overhangs and it is well worth breaking up the journey to Sur by taking a cooling dip in the Indian Ocean. At Bimah there is a sinkhole, a depression in the land usually formed by a cave roof collapsing due to erosion. There are stone stairs down to the water for a swim in a rare natural anomaly. Sur is a working city in every sense of the word; there are few shops or businesses catering for tourists but there are several hotels which cater for visitors. The Sur Beach Hotel offers ocean views with a good restaurant, room service and internet but above all, the staff are extremely

helpful and friendly. The fish market is a hub

generation to generation and along the banks

of activity; fisherman bring their catch to the

of the entrance to the harbour where wooden

market at sunrise and sell it to the traders

dhows are crafted. The ramshackle boat

the beach where they were born. The turtles

at a wholesale price. The fish are then sold

yards give a fascinating insight into this art.

must be over 35 years of age to breed and

on to the people of Sur and the surrounding

Lumber yards are full of African teak logs

only one in a thousand of the infants is

villages. It is a fascinating place filled with a

and machinery for shaping the wood from

destined to survive to adulthood. There

huge variety of fish from sharks to sardines

days gone by. The craftsmen’s only guide

were once millions of Green Turtles but

and everything inbetween. To the back of the

is a sketch drawn in the sand and age-old

hunting and destruction of their habitat has

market are the fishmongers who prepare the

methods are used including fish oil for

decimated their numbers, the sanctuary at

fish for a small charge.

waterproofing the hull. Dhows from Sur have

Ras al Jinz plays a vital role as 90% of the

However the fish market is not just a

sailed to far-flung places including Africa and

Green Turtles left in the world breed from

place to trade as Saeed, a young Omani from

China; the sturdy craft are built for the harsh

these shores. Watching the turtles struggle

Sur, explains; “The fish market is where we

conditions of long ocean passages.

for existence on a warm moonlit night is a

meet and talk about life, we share information

There are 14 conservation areas in the

amazing lifestyle of this wonderful animal. Over 30,000 turtles lay their eggs on

moving experience.

with each other and it is often customary for

Sultanate of Oman, making it a unique


fishermen who have a good catch to share

eco-tourism location. A trip to Sur cannot

Nizwa is located in the heart of Oman about

with friends. At another time, the favour is

be complete without visiting the turtle

165 km from Muscat and was the capital

returned, this is the way of the Omani; we

sanctuary at Ras al Jinz, about 45 minutes

of Oman in the 6th century and still retains

look after each other. We do not have many

drive south east of the town. Ras al Jinz is

some fascinating historical buildings. The

visitors to Sur but they are welcome, if you

one of the best places in the world to see

imposing fort built in the mid 17th century

don’t know the way or how to get something,

green turtles, which enjoy a protected area

by Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Ya’ribi and the

all you have to do is ask someone, they will

nearly 100 miles (73 km) long. Trips have to

ancient old town being prime examples. It is

be glad to help you.”

be pre-booked and take place either at night

famous for its bustling souq where exquisite

or very early in the morning. The guides

copper and silver jewellery and other craft

are exceptionally knowledgeable about the

items are available for sale. Just outside the

For hundreds of years, boat builders from Sur have passed on their skills from

Sign on a traditional Dhow builders workshop © Louay Habib

Links to a long maritime heritage are evident the length of Oman’s coast

The desert meets the sea for hundreds of kilometres along the coast


Photos: © Johan Palsson

Local Omani children from Sur have a quick smile for visitors


town centre an immense palm oasis stretches

shrouded in mist due to their altitude, but

for eight kilometres along the course of

there are also several roads leading directly

has one of the best education systems in

two wadis. A short drive from Nizwa is the

into these mountains. Generally these side

the region and a huge amount of investment

old village of Tanuf, known for its seasonal

roads are very good but there are some

has gone into building the infrastructure

waterfalls that make it a very popular picnic

adrenalin pumping climbs and descents

of the country, making the diverse land of

destination for the locals and a vital source of

revealing some truly breathtaking scenery.

Oman more prosperous for the Omanis and

drinking water.

Hidden away amongst these mountain

accessible to visitors. Oman has been voted

passes are remote towns, often near a wadi

among the world’s top ten travel destinations

is the town of Ibra. Called the gateway to

and festooned with palm trees. Life in the

in the world by many publications, websites

the East, it was the route of caravans taking

mountain villages is incredibly simple but the

and travel programmes.

trade from Africa to the East. Ibra is famous

locals greet visitors with warmth and they are

for its fine horses, a wonderful souq and

more than happy to assist travelers who get

destination for people who want a more

5,000 year old beehive tombs. But without

lost in the labyrinth of small alleys.

‘off the beaten track’ experience and Vogue

On the road from Nizwa back to Muscat

doubt the most magical aspect of this area

On the 23rd July 1970, His Majesty,

He was good to his word and today Oman

Lonely Planet has picked Oman as a

magazine rated it as a location because it is

are the Jabal Al Akhdar range, literally

Sultan Qaboos bin Said began his reign and

meaning ‘green mountain’ it is one of the

the new ruler had a vision for Oman. For

But perhaps the best feature of this

most spectacular areas in Oman. The highest

decades before there was little progress

fascinating country is its people, they have

point, Jabal Shams, ‘mountain of the sun’, is

by modern standards. The education and

a proud heritage dating back thousands of

around 9,800 feet (3,000 m) high. It is the

infrastructure were poor at best and in his

years but they are incredibly tolerant, they

highest point in the whole of eastern Arabia

infamous Renaissance address he announced

value family life and the welfare of their

and is aptly named as the sun’s rays dance

that that was to change;

friends. The Omani way is to welcome

on its craggy slopes but has experienced

“My people, my brothers, yesterday it

snowfall during some colder winters in recent

was complete darkness and with the help of

years. The main route is stunning enough,

God, tomorrow will be a new dawn on Oman

huge escarpments dominate the skyline often

and its people.”

less touristic than other Arabic countries.

visitors; it is a fundamental part of their traditional way of life.

The people of Nizwa are welcoming to all tourists

The bays of Bander Khayran offer secluded moorings.

Camels are a regular sight all over Oman

Bibi Mariam’s tomb near Qalhat, on the coast road to Sur




From top, clockwise: 1. Stunning views are around every corner, even in the most rugged areas of the country. © Ministry of Tourism 2. A new day dawns over the inlets of the Musandam peninsula. © Ministry of Tourism 3. Reminders of Oman’s heritage and history are found behind every door © Issa Saleh Al Kindy 4. Shadowed serenity in the arched hallways of the Grand Mosque. © Lloyd Images



Opposite page, from top left, clockwise: 1. The waters around Oman offer a wide range of catches for sport fishermen. © Lloyd Images 2. Getting close to camels is a highlight of many excursions in Oman. © Steve Graham 3. A local fisherman in Sur proudly displays his catch to potential customers. © Lloyd Images 4. Muscat is formed by it’s backdrop of jebels (mountains). © Lloyd Images 5. Architecture rooted in thousands of years of heritage give mosques across Oman individual character. © Lloyd Images This page, clockwise: 1. A fisherman in the Muscat fish-souq (market) prepares fish for sale. © Lloyd Images 2. Fishermen constantly buzz the shore bringing in catches. © Lloyd Images 3. Traditional building along the waterfront of Muscat’s old harbour. © Lloyd Images



From top left, clockwise: 1. Ras Al Jinz is the easternmost point of Oman and a nesting site for Green Turtles. © Ministry of Tourism 2. The entrance to the Old Town area of Muscat is marked by a reconstruction of the original gates © Lloyd Images 3. The luxurious Al Bustan Palace Hotel is an icon of Oman © Ministry of Tourism 4. Prayer beads are a well thought-out purchase for Omani men. © Lloyd Images 5. Authentic Omani silver can be bought in the souqs (markets). © Lloyd Images 6. Local souqs offer a range of products. © Lloyd Images 7. Enjoying Kahwa (Traditional coffee) is still a way of life for Omanis. © Steve Graham


Traditional methods are still used by ďŹ shermen for catches of all sizes.

Š Lloyd Images


Standing above the clouds, and feeling on top of the world, is easily done in Salalah. © Oman Sail

Sunrise at the top of Oman on Jebel Shams, 2,900 metres © Steve Graham

The waterfront of Port Sultan Qaboos comes alive in the evenings © Lloyd Images


AND BEYOND The Oman Sail project is designed specifically to contribute to the national objectives as set out by His Majesty in the quote above. In a world of diminishing resources our focus is on an ecologically responsible sport, within which we will: • Develop a National Dinghy Sailing Squad with the aim of winning medals on the international stage. • Undertake major ocean voyages in Oman’s boats crewed by Omanis. • Compete in world-renowned events in Omani boats crewed by Omanis. • Remain focused on Omanisation (Our organisation is currently 67% Omani). • Create world-class events to demonstrate the Sultanate’s re-emergence in the field of maritime endeavour. • Continue to create role models to inspire the Omani youth and project the values of the Sultanate. • Create employment for the youth of Oman (both directly and indirectly). • Ensure that professional training and skills are acquired which will allow the Sultanate’s developing marine leisure industry to be both sustainable and reputable. • Create an elite National Sailing Squad which will be formed from an all inclusive programme that spans the Sultanate. The personal development of individuals is key; self discipline, striving for success, working as a team, pride in their nation, and developing self reliance will contribute to the Sultanate as a whole. In the future the most important aspect is to create the solid foundation of the sport and allowing professional skills to be made available to Omanis by Omanis. The next five years of Oman Sail have been meticulously planned to ensure that goals are met and the cornerstones of Oman Sail’s existence are met, if not surpassed.


CROSSING OCEANS Assembled in Salalah in the summer of 2009, the Arabian 100 is one of the largest race yachts to be built that year and includes leading edge technology and the communication capabilities for the crew to broadcast live TV from anywhere in the world. By 2015 Oman Sail’s aim is to host a privately owned fleet of these boats in Muscat as part of an Indian Ocean race circuit. The boat is designed to sail with a minimum 50% Omani crew. Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race Majan will trace out this new course taking the big dive south for a giant tour of the Indian Ocean Capes facing the challenges of all the combined might of the Southern and Indian Ocean. See also page 46. Route du Rhum The Route du Rhum is a transatlantic single-handed yacht race, which takes places every 4 years in November. The course is between Saint Malo, Brittany, France and Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe. There is a maximum of 60 boats competing in 4 categories, one of which, ORMA, is for multihulls and the category in which Majan would compete. OFFSHORE As the main training element of the Omani offshore racing crew, this programme is about giving trainees extended time on the water and includes participation in events such as: The Clipper Round the World Race. This biennial race gives the opportunity to join and complete a lap of the planet. The race takes 9 months to complete and is an excellent way to learn how to live and work as part of an international offshore crew. Tour de France à la Voile. This is one of Europe’s most respected team sailing challenges. During this gruelling month-long annual event the crews will be competing against a mix of professionals and amateurs and will give first-hand experience of intensive level racing in a matched fleet of boats. This is a race format Oman Sail will be looking to replicate for visiting teams around the coast of Oman by 2011. ELITE INSHORE Racing Extreme 40s is the most exciting discipline of the sport at the moment. It attracts top class sailors, global media and hundreds of thousands of spectators. It has already proved to be an excellent means of projecting the image of the Sultanate worldwide by


increasing awareness of the Sultanate. We will have at least one Omani competing within this top level arena throughout Europe, Asia and Arabia. DINGHY All famous yachtsmen and yachtswomen start their sailing careers in dinghies. Every sailing nation that breeds successful sailors has a nationwide inclusive (but not elitist) dinghy programme – so will Oman. To develop the best Omani racing sailors capable of competing at the highest international standard, Oman Sail will both race and organise a variety of inshore events. On behalf of the Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Sail will be running national dinghy events and training crews in preparation for competing in the Muscat Asian Beach Games in November 2010.

2010 TIMELINE JANUARY 12 new recruits officially join Oman Sail as full time trainees

FEBRUARY Extreme Sailing Series Asia final in Oman and the start of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race Departure of the Jewel of Muscat

MARCH Inaugural School’s Regatta held by the Oman Sailing School

APRIL Oman Sail relocate their head office to The Wave, Muscat

MAY Extreme Sailing Series Europe starts with Masirah and The Wave, Muscat taking part

JUNE Oman takes part in the Tour de France à la Voile

JULY Two Omani sailors return from sailing round the world in Clipper Race

OCTOBER Majan takes part in the Route du Rhum race

NOVEMBER Extreme Sailing Series Asia 2010 starts

DECEMBER Oman Sail competes in the Laser and Hobie 16 classes in the Asian Beach Games, Muscat

© Oman Sail

© Ingmar Jense

2010 AND BEYOND 65

Foreword by Her Excellency Dr. Rajiha bint Abdulameer bin Ali Minister of Tourism and Chairman of Oman Sail LLC

© Mark Covell

The Clipper Round the World Race

© Ingmar Jense

Tour de France à la Voile

Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race

Route Du Rhum 2

© JMLiot

Extreme Sailing Series Asia and Europe

© B.Stichelbaut

AHLAN WA SAHLAN to this latest edition of the Oman Sail campaign magazine. The overarching theme of the campaign is reigniting the Sultanate’s rich and varied maritime heritage. It is a journey from the past, through the present and into a challenging future. Above all it is a story of achievement: young Omanis, male and female are now learning to sail. Mohsin al Busaidi, an Omani, has become the first Arab to sail non-stop around the world, starting and finishing in Muscat. We have achieved a whole series of first places at the highest reaches of competitive sailing on the Extreme 40 circuit: 1st in the Round the Island Race in the United Kingdom, 1st in the iShares Cup in Europe and 1st place in the first two events of the new Asian Extreme Sailing Series in Hong Kong and Singapore leading, we hope, to an overall win to be decided in February in Muscat. The assembly of a 105-foot giant trimaran in our southernmost port of Salalah is another massive milestone for Oman. Named Majan, after the ancient name for Oman, this trimaran has already conducted her maiden voyage around the Arabian Gulf and in February sets out to establish a new route in the Indian Ocean. The team has also achieved success in dinghies in both national and international competitions. Oman Sail is providing professional support to the Jewel of Muscat, a replica 9th Century hand sewn ship that has been built in Muscat, clearly demonstrating how the past, present and future are intertwined throughout the project. Ahmed Al Maamari and Abdullah Al Busaidi are even now facing the extreme challenges of the world’s oceans in the demanding Clipper Round the World Race and will return in July after 10 months of sailing. The story so far is of a string of remarkable successes. The future holds even more exciting challenges to be faced by Omanis for the Sultanate, none more so than the target of teaching 30,000 Omanis to sail by the end of 2015. In these pages we tell a story of achievement and challenges that have already won international recognition and respect. I believe that these should be a source of deep pride for all Omanis and, once again, reflect the wise leadership and vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Please reflect for a moment on the effort, dedication and courage demonstrated by Omanis illustrated in this magazine. I trust you will be as impressed as I am in the ambition and fortitude displayed and share these national achievements with pride.

Dinghy Programme




R E I G N I T I N G M A R I T I M E H E R I T A G E 2 N D E D I T I O N J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 0

H E R I T A G E 2nd E D IT IO N

Official Campaign Magazine for Oman Sail  

This is the official magazine for Oman Sail and chronicles the progress of the programme over the last year and looks ahead to 2010.

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