Queensland: Oman Sail's determined F18 pair, Musab Al Hadi and Ahmed Al Bulushi, have been urged to 'buck up' for extra speed in stronger breezes, despite finishing just off the podium in fourth place at the blustery 2013 Nacra Infusion World Championships in Queensland, Australia.In a week marked by raging winds and turbulent seas, the slender Omani sailors battled for more than five days through 12 races against their heavyweight counterparts, trying to keep their boats upright and to stay at the front of the fleet.
They were 100 per cent successful in avoiding a capsize, even though their main halyard lock had broken in one race and their dagger-board had ruptured in another, while all around them, their rivals fell victim to the boisterous conditions and were forced
to retire. Going into the final day in seventh place, they once again had to contend with a building breeze, starting at around 10 knots and doubling to 20 over the space of four races.
They posted a bullet in the first race, then a third in the second, which shot them up the leaderboard before their larger, stronger counterparts took control of the podium in the final two races, leaving Al Hadi and Al Bulushi in fourth place. The duo knew they needed to build up muscle if they were to achieve their long-term goal of winning a medal at the World Championships.
"It was a pretty good result, but this event has driven home the importance of weight," said Oman Sail's National Catamaran Coach Paul Wakelin.
"Its importance isn't obvious when we are training in Mussanah, where it's sunny with a lovely gentle breeze. But when you pitch up in a brutal place like this, against heavier crews, the results speak for themselves."
Weighing in, as a crew, at 143 kilograms, they need to beef up to reach some 150 kilograms before the F18 World Championships in Italy in July.
"If they work on their fitness and strength and reach the levels we have set, they will be on the pace in any fleet," stated Wakelin.
"There are no soft options in our training schedule, and the sooner we start aiming for the top, the sooner we will get there.
"In these World Championships, we wanted to immerse ourselves in the nutrition and strength side of things, and at Mussanah Race Week next month, we will be concentrating on our equipment because the boats there will be older well-used ones, rather than the latest models. At the cutting edge of the fleet, the smallest differences matter, and it will be good for the guys to get to grips with that reality.
"It has been a brutal but sunny and wavy experience here, which has given the guys a great start to the season and has really motivated them. "Mussanah Race Week will be different. Competing in front of the home crowd will be a real test, but Musab and Ahmed are very excited and hope they can win a medal, even though they will be competing against some of the fastest F18 sailors in the world," he added.
Mussanah Race Week, Oman's mushrooming annual international dinghy regatta, will take place from March 10–16 at Al Mussanah Sports City, Oman, where the 2013 Laser World Championships are set to be staged in November this year.
The event includes five days of racing plus two days of free access to coaching from some of the world's best sailors and professionals who have competed at the very highest levels in the sport.