Thursday, 15 October 2009

iShares Cup: Oman Teams Victorious Under Spanish Skies

The crew Of Masirah celebrate winning the iShares Cup title 2009. Image copyright Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

by Ingmar Jense and Salim Al Kindi

Masirah completed a six-month trail of glory with a double victory in Almeria as thousands watched. All crew members put in a performance which overshadowed all efforts from other teams to not only take the victory in the Almeria leg of the iShares Cup but the title of 2009 iShares Cup champions!

Renaissance also battled hard until the last minute to take an admirable fourth overall in the Almeria leg ensuring a double Oman victory as they took third place in the 2009 iShares Cup series.

Masirah passes in front of the crowds in Spain. Image copyright Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

The culmination of six venues and 118 races all boiled down to the last race on the last day of the last venue as ten boats all lined up, but only three were in contention for the 2009 iShares Cup title. The electricity in the air from the 40,000 spectators, including Her Excellency Dr. Rajiha Bint Abdulameer Bin Ali, Oman's Minister of Tourism, His Excellency Eng. Sultan Hamdoon al Harthi, Head of Muscat Municipality and the Municipal Council as well as His Excellency Oman's Ambassador to Spain was flowing as the start gun went for the first race. Masirah got off to a near-perfect start and led all the way and maintained their lead throughout the day. In the final race Masirah had a marginal lead, but not enough to rest on their laurels. In the last race Masirah wisely opted to keep the only other contender for the top podium position at this stage, Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild, in their sights to ensure their overall win.

As the finishing horn was sounded for Masirah's finish a huge cheer went up from the crowded waterfront as the new heroes were given a standing ovation and applause.

The Masirah Crew are joined by Loick Peyron and Nasser Al Mashari from Renaissance. Image copyright Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

Renaissance sailed on the edge all day to score an equally credible third overall to bookmark the podium with the proud colours of the Oman flag. To have not one, but two teams, on the podium in such a high profile international event is testament to the support in Oman given to the teams and the aspirations of reigniting the maritime heritage of Oman. Her Excellency Dr, Rajiha Bint Abdulameer Bin Ali, was incredibly proud of both teams, "I am so proud to have been able to watch Oman Sail's Masirah winning the series in front of thousands of spectators in Spain. I dedicate this victory to the wise leadership of His Majesty and his vision in bringing this project into fruition. I want to thank all the team in Oman sail and in particular the team on Masirah for reaching first place - it was not an easy victory. I didn't realise how difficult this was until I came to Spain and watch Oman racing myself. My congratulations to the team." His Excellency Eng. Sultan Hamdoon al Harthi was just as impressed by the victory that unfolded in front of him, "It is a matter of pride for Oman that Masirah and Renaissance dominated the iShares Cup, not just in Spain but also the entire series. To win first and third overall is a result of unprecedented performance."

Spectators look on as Masirah races. Image copyright Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

Two Omani trainees have supported the teams during the summer, both of whom will now be sailing for Oman Sail in the next series themselves. Masirah team member Khamis Al Anbouri summed up the mood of the team "Winning the iShares Cup is just one of Oman Sail's steps in encouraging young Omanis to start sailing and showing them the hard work required to achieve success. I am very proud to be part of this team and I look forward to competing now in the next series as a full crewmember. I would also like to thank my wife for all her support and encouragement as I strive to become the very best and to make Oman a household name. Congratulations also to Ahmad Al Harthy for his result this weekend- a truly proud weekend for Oman!"

Additional Quotes:

Her Excellency Dr. Rajiha Bint Abdulameer Bin Ali, Oman's Minister of Tourism and His Excellency Eng. Sultan Hamdoon al Harthi, Head of Muscat Municipality and the Municipal Council pose with the Masirah Team. Image copyright Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

"Thank you very much for Her Excellency Dr Raliha Bint Abdulamir bin Ali and His Excellency Enj. Sultan Hamdoon al Harthi for being present in Spain to support the Omani team. It is fabulous that our sailors have won and having seen them competing, I know they will also do the best in the future. This winning hasn't come from nothing, but from a good foundation and training in Muscat that will ensure that we continue to have a good future for sailing in Oman. It is not strange for Oman to win like this as His Majesty has given his supporting the sport of sailing and we have a rich maritime history coming from the times of Ahmed bin Majid. It was brilliant to watch the victory of Oman Sail in person and well done to the Oman team!"
HE The Ambassador

"It has been an incredible season for the team. Being part of the Oman team, the spirit, the country and the people have become our friends. I am really impressed by the way Masirah has been sailing and they have done a really good job. I can't be a 100% happy, but for an old guy, third place is not to bad! And I can't forget my crew - a big thanks to them too. "
Loick Peyron, Skipper of Renaissance

" This weekend has been a dream. In all honesty, I have had more nights w ith no sleep than sleep as I saw all our dreams of winning sinking with our broken boat in Amsterdam. The support we have had from Oman is incredible and we all felt the presence on the water - the fact Their Excellencies came to support us in person means the world to us. To put on this performance and to fly the flag for Oman is going to be a day that we will not forget. We have been involved in this project for two years and it has been 118 races. To win by 3 points, it can't get any closer than that!"
Pete Cumming, Skipper of Masirah

Crowds watch as Masirah wins in Almeria. Image copyright Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

Oman Sail
iShares Cup

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