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Cowes Week Ladies Day & Offshore Sailing Action Video

8th August 2013
Cowes Week Ladies Day & Offshore Sailing Action Video

#cowesweek – Highlights of Ladies Day and the Artemis Challenge with some of the world's best offshore sailors in action with a number of British celebrities on board. Damian Foxall's Oman team was in action with Oman Sail's stars of the future given the chance to compare notes with two future celebrities from Britain's sailing programme when they joined forces on Oman Air-Musandam for the Artemis Challenge in Cowes today.

RYA Youth SL16 sailors James Henson, 18, and Olivier Greber, 17, were put to work on the winches under the expert eye of French skipper Sidney Gavignet who has been responsible for Oman's flagship MOD70 and for the development of some of Oman's best young sailors for the best part of three years including Fahad Al Hasni and Ahmed Al Hasni.

His training team was boosted by British yachtswoman Dee Caffari whose guidance was welcomed by Henson and Greber as well as her own young charge Raiya Al Habsi, who on Sunday becomes the first Omani woman to take part in the Rolex Fastnet Race as part of the Oman Air-Musandam team.

"They asked a lot of questions about Fahad and Ahmed like how old they were and how they got to sail on the MOD70," Dee said.

"Ahmed who used to race F18s comes from a similar background to them and he is a much more intuitive sailor and his development has been quick. Their backgrounds are conducive to fast development and I think they had a glimpse of what is possible for the future."

The young British pair, who recently won a silver medal at the 2013 SL16 World Championships at the Cercle de la Voile du Pyla sur Mer in France were blown away by their day on Oman Air-Musandam and full of envy that the young Omanis get to experience such a high performance boat so early in their careers.

"It was an awesome experience," said James. "It was impressive that Ahmed who is the same age as us is extremely lucky enough to be racing on a boat like that. It was a great honour for us – we felt honoured just to be involved today so it is a fantastic opportunity for him."

Olympic gold medallist Paul Goodison, a product of the RYA Youth programme, was impressed with the young Omani team and how quickly they had learned the ropes. "We had trimmers each side – me one side and Fahad portside," he explained.

"We were sailing upwind and set up the jib how we thought it should be set up but I was really impressed when I went to the other side and saw the trim was similar to mine. We were either both getting it right or both getting it wrong."

For Raiya, it was her first time competing on the MOD70 and the experience gave her a sense of the power and pace of Oman Air-Musandam in full race mode. Happily she was undeterred and keener than ever to get her first offshore race on the MOD70 underway.

"It was good fun," she said. "I was on the traveler and am keen to do more although I wouldn't be much good at grinding. It gave me a taste of what to expect in the Fastnet and I think it will be a great experience for me and really good for my learning curve."

The partnership between British and Omani youth was one that proved interesting for Gavignet who while helming the boat round the 50 nautical mile course around the Isle of Wight enjoyed seeing them all comparing notes.

"It was very interesting to have all these talented young sailors on board especially the similarities between Ahmed, James and Ollie who are similar ages and backgrounds," he said.

Oman Air-Musandam were handed a 30 minute penalty after they were found to be over the line at the start and despite finishing the course 11 minutes behind Groupe Edmond de Rothschild who took line honours, the penalty placed them in eighth place.

Published in Cowes Week Team

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