Itís time for Regatta


ALL set: Saleem Al Zawawi, third from left, speaking to the media along with the sponsors and officials at Marina Bandar Al Rowdha yesterday. PIc: Jun Estrada / TIMES OF OMAN

Muscat:  Much-awaited fourth edition of Muscat Regatta will begin on Thursday at Marina Bandar Al Rowdha, organisers informed.

More than 100 boats are expected to compete in two days of round-the-buoy racing while on November 24; a fleet of 15 yachts will start the Bank of Beirut Chariman's Cup race from Muscat to Khasab competing for US$ 50,000 prize money. The regatta will conclude on November 28 at Khasab.

Speaking to the media announcing the details of the regatta, Saleem Al Zawawi, chairman of Marina Bandar Al Rowdha said the preparations for the race began soon after the previous edition that was held last year.

"By starting early we have been able to steadily build up to where we are today on the eve of the 2012 regatta which will certainly be the biggest so far and also promises to be the best yet," he noted.

This year sailors are from the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Australia, Germany, France, Canada, South Africa and Ireland will participate.

"With the current enthusiasm for competitive sailing being generated by Oman Sail's academies and by the Muscat Regatta, the future of competitive sailing in Oman is full of promise," he said.

Started in 2009 with less than 20 crews racing for the fun of competing at international level, Muscat Regatta has grown in strength and it has caught the attention Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) based in London who is the authority for offshore races. RORC has given an official recognition to the prestigious Muscat to Khasab Chairman's Cup.

"This is a great achievement as far as the regatta is concerned and I am sure in years to come the race will grow further," Zawawi said.

According to John Grandy from GWM Racing who are managing the technical side of the race, said the yachts will be fitted with trackers courtesy of Extra-Link in Dubai. Spectators and the organisers will be able to track the progress of the race.
"For the first time this year the large yachts in the Dubai to Muscat race and in Muscat to Khasab race will be fitted with these trackers," Grandy said.

When asked as to why the prize money has not been increased over the last four years, Zawawi had this to say: "Yachting does not carry prize money. The reason why we have this incentive is to attract the sailors. We could have increased the money but we find such a need does not exist."

Ramy Zambarakji, managing director of Bank of Beirut Oman said his bank has been consistent in supporting the event ever
since it started.

"Our financial support not only signifies our involvement in the event but also our commitment to investing in sailing in the Sultanate, now and in the future," he said. Mohammed Ali Said Abdullah, vice-chairman of Marina Bandar Al Rowdha, Motassim Al Zedjali from Nawras and Bob Looker, marina manager were also present.

Apart from Bank of Beirut, Nawras, Oman Air, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Sports Affairs, BAE Systems, Eurocopter, MBDA France, Aston Martin, Intercontinental Hotel, Times of Oman, Al Shabiba, Hi, Al Youm Al Sabah are sponsoring the event. 

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