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Oman Sail teams prepare for Tour de France à la Voile and Spi Ouest

by Oman Sail 26 Mar 2013 18:26 GMT 26 March 2013

Oman Sail's M34 team prepares for Tour de France à la Voile while its Women's Sailing Programme is to sail French debut at Spi Ouest France Intermarché

Two Oman Sail teams are to compete in upcoming Spi Ouest France Intermarché this week: the Oman Sail M34 team will kick off their five-event racing season while a selection of sailors from Oman Sail's Women's Sailing Programme partnered by Bank Muscat venture onto the European racing circuit for the first time...

Oman Sail's M34 team prepares for Tour de France à la Voile

The Oman Sail M34 team led by French skipper Cedric Pouligny is to kick off its racing season this week with Spi Ouest France Intermarché, the first event of a five-race season that will culminate in the Tour de France à la Voile, France's flagship offshore event in July.

The team is fresh from Oman Sail's homegrown EFG Bank Sailing Arabia-The Tour where they fought valiantly to finish in second place behind Bertrand Pacé and ahead of Sidney Gavignet's MOD70 crew. The group has also just completed an intensive training session at the National Sailing School of France.

"We sailed five hours a day, trained and debriefed together. It was a good exercise, the team is motivated and the spirit is as great as ever!" said Cedric Pouligny.

The M34 is part of the overall Oman Sail programme which is using the power of sport to contribute to the development of the Omani people, it has a 50% Omani crew racing and learning alongside some of the sport's most competent offshore sailors. This year, two new Omani crewmembers Sami Al Shukaili and Abdulaziz Al Obaidani join their fellow countrymen.

"Our immediate goal is to measure our team against the competition and to achieve a good result at the Tour de France a la Voile in July. We are really happy to be back and can't wait to start racing the M34 fleet at Spi Ouest!" said pitman Mohammed Al Mageni.

His skipper is well aware that a difficult fleet has just become even more of a challenge with the arrival of elite French offshore sailors Franck Cammas and Thomas Coville on the circuit: "We were very pleased with our 2012 performance finishing just a point of the podium at the Tour de France a la Voile, we did better than we hoped. This year, we are going to try to do as well even though the level has been raised with the arrival of Groupama and Sodeb'O. Everything is possible however and we will be fighting for a podium place!"

Oman Sail Women's Sailing Programme partnered by Bank Muscat makes French debut

For the first time, Oman Sail will also be fielding a women's crew as part of its Women's Sailing Programme, which since it was rolled out in 2011 has introduced hundreds of women and girls throughout Oman to sailing through a range of ground-breaking initiatives and incentives.

Backed by the Sultanate of Oman and in partnership with Bank Muscat, the programme places a large emphasis on family support encouraging parents to inspire their daughters to pursue the sport and engage in lifetime learning experiences.

Four members of Dee Caffari's fourth placed 2013 Sailing Arabia – The Tour team return to action but this time in a smaller J80, swapping the warm climes of Oman for the freezing and rough waters of the Atlantic.

Their objective is to learn new skills and add to their experience by acclimatising to unfamiliar environments, boats and racing situations.

Intesar Al Tubi, who has been sailing with Oman Sail's keelboat for over a year now is looking forward to the steep learning curve ahead:
"I'm interested to learn about how life is in France and to learn as much as possible on the water by sailing against crews that have a lot more experience than us, it is going to be tough, but we are excited by the opportunity."

After Spi Ouest, the girls take on another competitive fleet at Grand Prix Ecole Navale de Brest, also in France, before competing in Normandy Sailing Week. Their European season is set to culminate in the J80 World Championships in Marseilles in July.

Liz Rushall Oman Sail's on board coach for the J80 campaign is candid about the challenge that faces the girls: "It will be tough and we might be last in some races but this is about learning what it's like to be on a start line with 80 other boats and how to fight your corner against people who have been doing it year in year out. It will be an amazing experience.

"If we can put a series together, make some clean starts and get round the course it will be a massive achievement for them in their first regatta with this size of fleet. These French regattas are very hard because they are long races and long days. The girls are up against some seasoned J80 campaigners so they are going to learn a lot."

AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive of Bank Muscat, wished them well ahead of their first European challenge: "Bank Muscat, associate partner of the Oman Sail Women's Programme, is proud to continue the support for the all-women crew, aimed at contributing to women empowerment and creating a sustainable sailing future for women in the country. The Omani female sailors are a great example for young Arab sailors across the region and we wish them good luck."

Oman Sail M34 race calendar

  • 28 March-1 April: Spi Ouest France Intermarché
  • 4-12 May: Iroise Cup (Grand Prix Guyader, Douarnenez and Grand Prix Ecole Navale de Brest)
  • 3-9 June: Normandy Sailing Week, Le Havre
  • 28 June-28 July: Tour de France à la Voile
  • 7-15 September: Med Race
Oman Sail M34 squad
  • Cédric Pouligny (FRA) skipper-helmsman
  • Gérald Véniard (FRA) navigator
  • Alex Pallu (FRA) mainsail trimmer
  • Guillaume Bérenger (FRA) mainsail trimmer
  • Nicolas Deberque (FRA) upwind trimmer
  • Shane Hugues (IRL) upwind trimmer
  • Leigh Mc Millan (GBR) tactician
  • Majid al Mujaini (OMA) downwind trimmer
  • Mohammed al Mageni (OMA) pitman
  • Ali al Balushi (OMA) bowman
  • Mohamed Mubarak al Makrini (OMA) bowman
  • Nasser al Mashari (OMA) downwind trimmer
Oman Sail Women's Sailing Programme J80 race calendar
  • 28 March-1 April: Spi Ouest France Intermarché
  • 10-12 May: Grand Prix Ecole Navale de Brest
  • 3-9 June: Normandy Sailing Week
  • 6-13 July: J80 World Championships, Marseille
Oman Sail Women's Sailing Programme J80 crew
  • Liz Rushall (GBR)
  • Raiya Al Habsi (OMA)
  • Intesar Al Tubi (OMA)
  • Rajaa Al Uwisi (OMA)
  • Ibtisam Al Salmi (OMA)
  • Tahira Al Yahyaee (OMA)
  • Asrar Al Ajmi (OMA)

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