Oman to Host ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in 2016

By Community | December 17, 2012

Oman has beaten bids from Buenos Aires (ARG), drugs Medemblik (NED) and Gydnia (POL) to host the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in 2016.

Held annually, click the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships is open to sailors aged 14-19. At this year’s event, also held in Dun Laoghaire, 350 competitors took part from 63 nations.

Coming off the back of successfully winning the right to hold the Laser World Championships in 2013, the bid to host the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships was presented by Oman Sail, a  government-backed initiative that harnesses the power of sailing to contribute to the development of Oman and its people. It particularly aims to rejuvenate Oman’s rich maritime heritage and to this end has set up sailing schools with the target of getting 30,000 Omanis afloat over a five year period (they recently reached 10,000).

For the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) the attractions of holding the Youth Worlds in Oman were multiple. It is always keen to support emerging nations and, thanks to Oman Sail’s initiative in the sultanate, there are few other places in the world where sailing is promoted so strongly to its population, in particular young people.

Fiona Kidd, Chair of the ISAF World Youth Sailing sub-committee, which voted to go to Oman, explained their reasoning: “We had four excellent bids to host the championship, but one of the strongest things that came through in the Oman bid, was the legacy that would be left behind after the Worlds.”

In addition to the ‘hard’ legacy such as equipment and infrastructure, the committee was particularly impressed with the ‘soft’ legacy left by staging the event in Oman. “That it will inspire a whole generation of young people into sailing, was for me the overriding issue,” said Kidd. “Obviously they have the next four years and it can be the cornerstone of their own development, getting sailors to participate in every one of the events – they want to have multihull sailors and they want to have windsurfers – now they have a goal in front of them and they can develop their sailors to achieve that goal.”

The committee was also impressed by how much Oman Sail had achieved in the relatively short time it has existed. “It is an incredible model what they have done. It should be replicated in other areas of the region, in terms of how they are getting children into water sports, and their women in sailing program is fantastic. That energy all came across in their presentation.”

Hosting the event in Oman it is hoped will also attract and inspire sailors to take part from other nations around the Gulf area and Middle East. In addition to inspiring its future sailing champions, hosting the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships will also provide local race officials and organisers with additional experience in hosting international sailing events and the economic benefits these events in turn bring to the country.

The 2016 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships will be held at the Mussanah Sports City, situated on the coast of the Wilayat of Al Mussanah, 100km northwest of the Omani capital, Muscat. Purpose-built to host the 2010 Asian Beach Games, this Olympic-standard venue spans one million square metres and is based around a marina. Among its facilities are a 4 star hotel, apartments, an athletes’ village, food halls, a state of the art media centre as well as launching and landing zones for boats. This venue will also host the Laser World Championships at the end of 2013.

Oman Sail will manage the Championships, both on and off the water. Its staff now holds a wealth of expertise in event management, having twice hosted the Extreme Sailing Series in Muscat as well as running their own events such as Sailing Arabia – The Tour and Mussanah Race Week. In 2013, in addition to the Laser World Championships, the Extreme Sailing Series is due to return while the RC44 class is to hold its first 2013 season regatta in Muscat, both classes attracted by the prospect of extending their seasons into the ‘winter’ months, when in Oman the temperature is still around 20-30degC and the water temperature 25 degC – no wet suits required. The exact date of the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship has yet to be finalised but it is expected to be in December 2016 or January 2017.

If there is any down time, sailors will also have the opportunity to visit the Omani capital, Muscat a 45 minute drive away from the venue. The best flavour of Muscat can be had by walking the Mutrah Corniche, admiring the local dhows and, depending upon the timing, the local fish market and the famous Mutrah Souq market.

Oman Sail CEO David Graham concludes: “The ISAF Youth Worlds is an opportunity to inspire our youth, as well as showcase Oman in all its natural beauty to an international audience through sport, aligning perfectly with Oman Sail’s strategy.”