Muscat: Oman Sail yesterday confirmed the participation in their signature offshore race Sailing Arabia – The Tour of Team Messe Frankfurt, a group of talented young sailors from the UK's University of Plymouth.
Team leader and skipper Marcel Herrera, a specialist of the Foiling Moth, a dinghy which uses hydrofoils to lift the boat out of the water, is used to extreme sailing machines, and is looking forward to the experience of helming one of the identical Farr 30 keelboats which make up the fleet.
"Successful racing is about clear thinking, and effective management of the crew – things happen fast on these new boats, and the skills I bring from the world of dinghy sailing should stand the team in good stead for racing in the Arabian Gulf. We have a very strong team, and are looking forward to the challenge of sailing against teams like the Royal Navy of Oman."
Trimmer Matt Haslam, who competed in the 2012 edition of Sailing Arabia – The Tour on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia boat, is confident that his knowledge of the course will also make a solid contribution to the Team Messe Frankfurt effort.
"I am looking forward to getting back out there and building on last year's experience for a great result," he says.
Navigator Sam Holliday is already a professional sailor at the age of 19, and believes that his role will be central for the success of the entry: "It's the make or break role in any offshore race," he says.
David Graham, chief executive officer of Oman Sail paid tribute to the team: "Team Messe Frankfurt's entry into Sailing Arabia – The Tour is a strong vindication of our belief that the future of sailing in the Gulf has to be developed through mentoring and youth training.
Marcel and his team are a great example for young aspiring sailors to follow, and we hope that young people of all backgrounds from the region will be inspired to come and learn the skills and teamwork they need for serious competition with Oman Sail's training programmes."
Last year, French team Courrier Dunkerque took the trophy after a downwind sprint to the finish line situated off The Wave, Muscat. Skippered by one of the most experienced sailors in France, Olympic competitor Daniel Souben, this is a fine example of the caliber of talent that Sailing Arabia – The Tour continues to attract. It also points to the challenges facing Marcel Herrera and his young team, in the exceptional sailing conditions that the Gulf has to offer.
With seven port destinations on the course, including Manama, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Dibba, Mussanah and Muscat, the two week race will stretch Team Messe Frankfurt to the limit as they compete against some of the best and most experienced sailors in the region and the world.
Marcel Herrera remains upbeat: "We're going out there to fight for the win" he says.
With some of the best sailing conditions and a great competition set to start in Manama on February 10, whatever the result, it is sure that there won't just be one winner.