The middle eastern sultanate was thrust into the media spotlight as it hosted the opening round of the america’s cup World series, a precursor to the america’s cup proper, reports Will carson.
Oman hosts the prestige ocean race for the first time.
the three-day regatta saw six teams made up of the world’s best sailors go head to head in revolutionary catamarans that ‘fly’ on special hydrofoils at speeds of more than 34 knots.
as well as marking the start of the 2016 america’s cup World series season it was a significant moment for the event, which began in 1851 when an american sailing crew beat a host of british yachtsmen in a race around the isle of Wight.
in the 165 years that have since passed the america’s cup – nicknamed the ‘auld mug’ – has become the most coveted trophy in sailing, but until now no america’s cup event had ever been held in the middle east.
With its calm blue seas, stunning coastline and rich maritime heritage, Oman’s capital muscat was deemed the perfect spot to stage the season opener.
the tone was set when the cup itself – an ornate vase-shaped pitcher made from sterling silver – arrived in the country to a lavish welcoming ceremony attended by dignitaries including Her excellency maitha al mahrouqi, undersecretary of ministry of tourism.
and after three days of intense on-thewater battle in near-perfect conditions that saw british sailor sir ben ainslie and his Land rover bar crew claim victory, the event was given a huge thumbs up from sailors, spectators and organisers alike.
it was a major success for organisers Oman sail, a Government-backed scheme to promote sailing to Omanis and advertise the sultanate on a global platform.
the regatta was backed by luxury French fashion house Louis Vuitton, continuing a partnership that goes back to 1983.
“it was a great honour to host the Louis Vuitton america’s cup World series, such a prestigious and important event in international sailing,” Her excellency maitha al mahrouqi said.
it was a sentiment echoed by the sailors, who are now queuing up to return to the sultanate.
“conditions were great for racing and to bring the america’s cup here is very special for the event and for Oman,” ainslie said following his team’s victory.
“muscat has proved to be a fantastic venue for the america’s cup and hopefully we can come back again soon.”