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LADIES EARN GRAND FINAL PLACE AS DUBAI LAUNCHES ISAF NATIONS CUP SAILING BATTLE

LADIES EARN GRAND FINAL PLACE AS DUBAI LAUNCHES ISAF NATIONS CUP SAILING BATTLE

03.04.2006: LADIES EARN GRAND FINAL PLACE AS DUBAI LAUNCHES ISAF NATIONS CUP SAILING BATTLE


India (left) in action in Dubai last time out – they are favourites but not unbeatable



Dubai ladies crew earn passage to Ireland as UAE youngsters aim to upset India’s Asian match racing champions

 

The UAE has been guaranteed a place in the grand final of the ISAF Nations Cup even before the world wide match racing challenge gets under way in Dubai tomorrow (Monday).

As the two UAE national crews were announced today (Sunday) for the five-day match racing series at Dubai International Marine Club it was confirmed that the Dubai teamskippered by Bekky Britton is guaranteed a final berth as the only all-ladies crew entered.

Britton and her crew of Miriam Walsh, Sharon Allison, Laura Palau, Ruth Christensen and Naomi Thompson will contest the round-robin series of match races getting under way tomorrow (Monday) morning knowing they are already through to the grand final at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Ireland in September.

Meanwhile, two five-man UAE crews were selected from a 20-strong squad whichunderwent training at Dubai International Marine Club.

The UAE’s Italian coach Raymondo Tonelli has named Ahmed Shaheen to skipper a crew featuring his brother Omar as well as Adil Diablo, Jassim Ehab and Ibrahim Al Dowais.

They have also been nominated as the official UAE representative in the event and will be battling against India and a Turkish crew skippered by Onursal Soyer for the  men’s grand final qualifying spot.

The second UAE crew will be skippered by Yousuf Khalid Mohammad who will be joined by his brothers, Adil and Hamad, as well as Tawfeeq Al Marzouki and Ahmed Ali.

New Asian champions India will start as firm favourites. Mahesh Ramchandran skippers a crew which lost to Germany in the final of the inaugural Dubai Match Race in January but has since won their own national match racing championships as well as the Asian Championships in Doha.

Aiming to complete a third match race success in a row, India also face opposition from another DIMC team led by Cedric Le Rest and from Christopher Graham’s crew representing the UAE Marine Sports Federation.

Qualification for the grand final came as a big surprise for Britton and her all-ladies crew who are following a big learning curve this week. "We’ve been practising for the past five days and our aim is to improve drastically and learn as much as we can about match racing," she said. "We’re all sailors but none of us have competed in a match racing event before."

The teams will compete in a daily round-robin series of match races aboard four V1/Lutra-30 Sport Boats. The final takes place on Friday and enthusiasts can follow the event by visiting www.dimc-uae.com/sailing/isaf

The Dubai qualifying round will be followed by other qualifiers in Finland, Portugal, Slovenia, Great Britain, Ecuador, the US Virgin Islands and New Zealand over the next four months as teams from around the world battle for a place in the grand final.


Ahmed Shaheen skippers one of the two UAE crews chasing a place in the grand final


Like the Indians, the UAE crews will be using the event as part of their build-up to the Asian Games in Doha in December. "All 20 of members of the squad gave a good account of themselves in the build-up and the ten selected have been those who stood out over the weekend," said Sid Bensalah, sailing director at DIMC. "The Indians have obviously developed a very good understanding and are the clear favourites, but they are not unbeatable and we’re looking forward to some very interesting match racing."

 

- Tony Lewis, Narayan Marar, Total Communications, Dubai -

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03.04.2006 / MaP

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