Sailing: Americas Cup in Oman, first time in the Middle East

Young Muscat sailors also hopeful with World Series

26 February, 13:37

    (ANSAmed) - NAPLES, FEBRUARY 26 - Everything is ready in Muscat for the arrival of the America's Cup catamarans that on Saturday and Sunday will glide into the waters of Oman's capital for the first World Series event of 2016.

    The event is historic: in fact it is the first time that the international circus of the most famous regatta in the world sets up in a Middle Eastern country, a choice that has enhanced the sultanate where Oman Sail, the organisation founded by the royal family, over the past eight years has contributed to the growth of sailing in Muscat.

    The coastal area of Al Mouj, a few kilometres from the centre of Muscat, hosts the big America's Cup village, with the bases of the six crews who will challenge each other in the waters of the sultanate to conquer points that will count for the qualifications of the Luis Vuitton Cup that will be held in Bermuda in 2017.

    The most eagerly awaited challenge is between the trophy-holding boat, Oracle Usa, and the New Zealand team Emirates, which leads the World Series standings after the first three events that were held in 2015.

    However the English crew Land Rover Bar, the Swedish Artemis Racing, Softbank Team Japan and the French Groupama team also are ready to show off their skills in the water.

    Three regattas are planned for each of the two days of the route along three km of the coast of the Gulf of Al Mouj, where thousands of people are expected to line the shores to watch the fast manouvres of the catamarans. But the spectacle will be broadcast around the world with 140 countries in television connection.

    The main player on land will be the sought-after America's Cup, the 100-year-old trophy that was brought to Muscat a few days ago.

    "It is a great honour to play host to the regattas of the America's Cup," said Maitha Al Mahrouqi, undersecretary for tourism in Oman and president of Oman Sail, " we developed sailing meaningfully over recent years until it has now become the most popular sport in the sultanate".

    Russell Coutts, managing director of America's Cup, said "it is beautiful to bring the Cup to this region of the world.

    Oman has a great tradition of the sea and arriving here one feels it, speaking with people who are sincerely passionate about sailing. I am sure that we will have a great event".

    Among events scheduled over the week-end is a meeting between the best 20 young sailors of Oman with the top skippers of the America's Cup catamarans.

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