Muscat: Mansoor Al Mahrouqi, one of Oman's budding young sailing apprentices, added a wealth of experience to his racing know-how when he ended his 2014 ISAF Youth World Championships campaign in Tavira, Portugal this week.
In his first world-class competition, Al Mahrouqi at 15 years was one of the youngest and smallest competitors among a massive field of 367 sailors from 67 nations racing alongside 56 other youngsters in the Laser Radial Boys class.
Over five days of intense competition in a various conditions, Oman Sail's Omantel National Youth Squad member used the opportunity to take full advantage of the experience he required to work his way into contention over the three years to 2017 that he will be eligible to race in this event.
"The main objectives behind Mansoor competing was that he gain experience of competition, big fleets and different conditions," said Brazilian coach Leonardo Santos, a professional youth trainer at Oman Sail. "He was the one of the youngest in the fleet and the breeze ranged from very light to around 15 knots but his attitude was always fantastic – a real 'bring it on' approach to the challenge. He was focussed, put in a lot of effort and improved every day with a couple of mid fleet finishes so it was a promising performance.
"Mansoor raced with sailors from all over the world and he interacted with them and saw what it takes to be competitive. At the end, he told us he needed to get fit, gain weight and train hard to improve his starts and tactics by the time he returns next year."
Oman Sail's long stated dream of having Olympic contenders by 2020 has started to take shape due to the talent and determination of young sailors such as Mansoor Al Mahrouqi, added senior coach and mentor Abdulaziz Al Shidi.
"We have the talent in our national youth squad and it is up to us now to give them the direction and opportunities to develop it. The Youth World Championships were a really tough challenge for Mansoor but they were vital to his development". "Our youngsters are not going to reach the standard they need to reach without facing these types of challenge and we are very encouraged by the way Mansoor tackled this difficult test."
Al Mahrouqi only started racing in the Laser Radial class earlier this year, but has been an Optimist sailor since early 2012, as part of the Omantel Youth Programme performance pathway designed to prepare young Omanis for top-level sailing.
Driven by Oman Sail and co-sponsored by Oman Shipping Company, the programme is designed to develop inspirational sailing performances among Oman's young generation. The programme has become a blueprint for youth sport across the region over the past few years, laying strong grounds for winning a range of team and individual gold medals in GCC Championship events.