The 2015 RS:X World Championship officially open in Mussanah Sports City
The Sultanate of Oman officially welcomed the 2015 RS:X World Windsurfing Championships to its shores with a ceremony at the Millennium Resort Mussanah, part of the purpose-built Olympic-standard sports village that 140 athletes (82 men and 58 women) from 42 different countries will call home for the next week.
As the sun set over the Arabian Gulf, competitors and guests were given a taste of Oman’s famed hospitality and a glimpse of what lies ahead over the next seven days. In the presence of His Excellency, Sheikh Sa’ad bin Mohammed bin Said al Mardhouf Al Sa’adi, Minister of Sports Affairs, David Graham, Oman Sail CEO, shared his delight at bringing the event to the Sultanate.
He said, “This year marks the tenth anniversary for the RS:X class; It is an honour for the Sultanate of Oman and Mussanah Race City to be chosen to host the World Championships and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the RSX class for their confidence in Oman Sail to host such a significant event for them.”
The 2015 RS:X World Windsurfing Championships are also an Olympic qualifier for many classes and sailors, where six countries in the RS:X Men’s and RS:X Women’s category will be looking to secure a place at the Olympics following the country Olympic qualification event in Santander, Spain, recently, where 18 men and 13 women qualified their countries for the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. Countries will also be using this regatta to select their Olympic squad and the Under 21 RS:X World Championship is also taking place this week, which should create interesting dynamics throughout the fleet as each competitor looks to make a positive impression.
Some of the world’s best windsurfers have travelled to Oman for the event, including defending world champion, Julien Bontemps (FRA), Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) winner of the RS:X (Mens) gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, Byron Kokkalinis (GRE), the current number one in the men’s ISAF world rankings, and Bryony Shaw (GBR), the world’s number one woman windsurfer and winner of bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, competition is expected to be intense.
Graham, commenting on the depth of competition, and the socio-economic benefits of hosting international events added: “Sport has the power to unite people, cultures and objectives under one cause, and through sailing, we have created opportunities to enhance the skills of the Omani people and the economic competitiveness of Oman.
“Sailing has brought new people to Oman from around the world; Some for the first time. A positive impression of their hosts can transform sports fans and spectators into much more; they become ambassadors and endorsers of Oman.”
Joining David Graham in welcoming surfers and media from around the world at the opening ceremony, Carlo Dallo Vedova, RS:X Class President, presented two golden pins to Neil Pryde, designer of the RS:X sailboard, and Her Excellency Maitha bint Saif Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Chairwoman of Oman Sail, in appreciation of their support.
His Excellency Sheikh Hilal bin Said Hamdan al Hajri, Governor of South Batinah, Advisor to the Ministry of Sports Affairs, Khalfan Al Nabai, Rashad Ahmed Al Hinai, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Sports Affairs and His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed al Farsi, Wali of Mussanah were also in attendance for the opening ceremony.
Oman Sail National Team Manager, Rashid Al-Kindi, stressed the importance of this event on the future of Oman’s own windsurfers. He said, “We use this event as an opportunity to inspire the next generation of windsurfers and create a legacy for Oman’s own participation. Oman Sail’s windsurfing club has a good number of young windsurfers aged 12-15. Our ultimate goal is to train a squad to be capable of representing Oman in a future Olympic Games, and with the continued support of The Ministry of Sports Affairs, we are sure that will be possible.”
Following a successful practice race yesterday, where winds reached 10kts, sailors began the opening day of racing on Monday with three races planned for the first two days. The fleet will then split into Gold and Silver before the final day on Saturday which will determine the 2015 RS:X World Windsurfing Champion in both male and female categories.