america’s cup

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.

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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.”

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