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Lifestyle SAILING-   UAE YOUNGSTERS AIM FOR ISAF NATIONS CUP GLORY

Lifestyle SAILING-   UAE YOUNGSTERS AIM FOR ISAF NATIONS CUP GLORY

28.03.2006: Lifestyle SAILING-   UAE YOUNGSTERS AIM FOR ISAF NATIONS CUP GLORY



Shaheen, Khalid take Dubai qualifying route towards grand final showdown in Ireland

 

Some of the UAE’s most talented young sailors go back into match racing action next week to fight for a place in the grand final of the ISAF Nations Cup.

Ahmed Shaheen, already in the record books as the first UAE competitor to contest the Optimist World Championships, skippers one of three boats entered by Dubai International Marine Club for the Nations Cup regional qualifying event it is hosting from next Monday.

Another of the UAE’s brightest young sailing talents, Yousef Khalid, skippers a second all-Emirati crew in one of eight qualifiers being staged around the world over the next four months ahead of Setpember’s grand final at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Ireland.

"This is another great chance for our top young sailors to get valuable competitive match racing experience in the build-up to the Asian Games in Doha in December," said

Saeed Hareb, Managing Director of Dubai International Marine Club and ISAF Group I Chairman.

"Some of the top match racing teams in the world are trying to win their way through to the grand final of the ISAF Nations Cup, and our youngsters have the chance to join them."

Cedric Le Rest will skipper the third DIMC boat entering the first of the regional qualifiers in Dubai along with crews from Dubai Offshore Sailing Club and the UAE Marine Sports Federation, as well as teams from India, Bahrain, Qatar, and Turkey.

World and Olympic champions from across the globe will be involved in the qualifying series which also sees rounds being hosted in Finland, Portugal, Slovenia, Great Britain, Ecuador, the US Virgin Islands and New Zealand.

Re-launched this year by the ISAF and featuring open and women’s events, the Nations Cup has been held three times previously. It began with an open competition in 1991, and American Ed Baird’s victory in the grand final in Barcelona was the climax of more than 1,000 match races sailed by teams representing 50 countries.

Two years later Dubai staged one of the qualifying rounds along with Finland, France, Peru, USA and Singapore, and Dutchman Roy Heiner went on to claim the Open Title, with Sweden’s Helena Strang winning the women’s event.

The Nations Cup was last staged in 1995, and at the grand final in San Francisco South Africa’s Bruce Savage emerged victorious in the Open event while Australia’s Susan Walter captured the women’s title.Yachting Australia have already announced that Nicky Souter will lead the defence of the women’s title this year, while South African Sailing will be holding a series of events to decide who will defend the men’s title.

The Cup is shaping up to be a truly global event with over 50 entries, including the traditional match racing powers like New Zealand. In Europe a host of match racing stars are lining up to do battle. France will be represented in the women’s event by Claire Leroy who leads the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, while Olympic gold medallist Sofia Bekatorou carries Greek hopes and the American women’s team will be led by ISAF Match Racing World Champion Sally Barkow.



"The standard of match racing throughout will be very high, and by staging the first of the qualifying rounds we’ll be setting the tone for the event," said regatta chairman Sid Bensalah, sailing manager at Dubai International Marine Club.

Following an opening ceremony at Dubai International Marne Club next Monday, teams will compete in a daily round-robin series of match races leading to the final on Sunday week.

Captions: Some of the UAE’s most talented young sailors go back into match racing action next week to fight for a place in the grand final of the ISAF Nations Cup.




- Tony LEWIS, Total Communications Dubai -

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28.03.2006 / MaP

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