Some of the sailors preparing for action
Qatar’s Al Sharishani, Abdulazeez show sailing mastery Kuwait Sea Sports Club holds Int’l Open Regatta

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 7: Qatar’s Waleed Al-Sharishani and Saoud Abdulazeez from Bahrain showed their sailing mastery and deep connections to the sea as Gulf citizens when after five races in two categories on the opening day Thursday they topped their respective Laser-Radial and Optimist classes at the ongoing 7th Kuwait International Open Regatta 2012 organized by the Kuwait Sea Sports Club in Messilah. With light variable winds, there were forty nine sailors participating in the races in forty one boats; 19 Optimists, 14 Laser-Radial and 8 Open Catamaran which is piloted by 2 crew members. The sailors came from ten countries around the world including Great Britain, Kuwait, South Africa, Egypt, UAE, Qatar, Morocco, Spain and Algeria.

There are three days allotted for Laser-Radial and Optimist races and two days for the Open Catamarans class on an Olympic trapezoid course each race, about 3 nautical miles long takes between 45 minutes and an hour to complete. The race Marshall decides how many times to go around that course depending on the strength of the wind. Following Abdulazeez of Bahrain in second place at the end of the two Optimist category races was another Egyptian Khloud Mostafa with Yahia Benouadden from Morocco in third place.
The race was very close at the top of the Optimist class with only two points separating the first two. With points of all the races being counted it was essential to garner as few points as possible as more points meant lower placing. Of the 19 sailors that started in the Optimist class, all managed to finish.
Finishing on Al-Sharishani’s trail in second place at the end of the three Laser-Radial races was Ahmed Ragab from Egypt followed in third place by his compatriot Essam Elwy. The Laser-Radial class saw all 14 boats in total make it to the finish line. Competition in the class was so very keen that David Buxton of Great Britain whose boat capsized twice in two of the races managed to finish in 12th place.

The 3-day event scheduled for December 6-8, 2012 will end with awards presented to winners late Saturday at the premises of the Kuwait Sea Sports Club in Salmiya. The event had nine races scheduled but after five successful races in the Optimist and Laser-Radial categories on the opening day, Friday’s races at some point had to be put on hold due to lack of winds.
The race is being overseen by an international committee of officials from Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Morocco, Bulgaria, Great Britain and Kuwait. There were three Laser Redial races Thursday, two races for the Optimists class with two for each category planned for Friday but risked being cancelled due to low winds.
Stanislav Kassarov, International Race Officer of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), charged with organizing and managing the racing part of the event, said the sailing event has been getting more and more popular in the Middle East, adding that “from race point of view we’ve had very good races so far with very strong tides which make it more challenging for the teams to sail”. He pointed out that it requires a lot of experience and some of the younger competitors have found it a little difficult managing through, “but it’s all part of a learning process”.

Nine races are scheduled but most likely all nine races cannot take place because of lack of winds. Cassarov predicted there might be just six or seven races completed in the event which he says “still makes for a good Regatta”.
He stated that the opening day’s races were wonderful, averaging 45-50 minutes to cover three nautical miles in the Olympic trapezoid course, which he pointed out were very good races.
With the current regatta set for a successful end, Cassarov said officials are discussing upgrading the event to a higher level, adding that with the competent officials currently in place, staging the next regatta which could be a bigger event spanning over four days will not be a problem.
The regatta is part of the International calendar of ISAF events, has an international jury of five comprising three international judges and two national judges. The jury distribution should be not more than two per country.

The jury and the Principal race officer are the important personnel needed to run a successful Regatta race.
The Regatta was governed by the Racing Rules of Sailing 2008-2012, the class rules of the relevant classes and the sailing instructions issued for the event. The Regatta had been designated a Category C event in accordance with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Advertising Code and the boats were required to display advertising of the event sponsors if so required by the Organizing Authority.
The Laser Radial, a singlehanded boat meant for sail by one person, uses the same top section of the mast as the Laser Standard but uses a smaller bottom mast section. The sail itself is 62 square feet (5.8 m2), about 19% smaller than the full Laser Standard rig. The Laser Radial is generally sailed and raced by lighter weight sailors and is usually the choice of women Laser sailors. Men typically sail the Laser Standard which has a larger sail.

The Optimist is recognized as an International Class by the International Sailing Federation. It is one of the most popular sailing dinghies in the world, with over 150,000 boats officially registered with the class and many more built but never registered.
The International Optimist, exclusively for sailors under 16, is sailed in over 120 countries by over 160,000 skippers and it is one of only two yachts approved by the International Sailing Federation.
A catamaran is a twin hull sailing boat crewed by two people. There were two types of catamaran sailing in the regatta: Hobie Cat 16 and Dart 18. The boats have different sailing characteristics and in order to make the race fair a handicap is applied to their final race times. The handicap is based on PY (Portsmouth Yardstick) and developed using years of ocean racing results.
The course was an Olympic style trapezium-shaped course and was marked by buoys and the race was governed by rules set by the International Sailing Federation. Incorrect procedures and violations of the rules resulted in having to make penalty turns through 360 degrees and/or disqualification. Crews were given an audio and visual warning of 5 minutes and 4 minutes to start and then visual warnings of 1 minute and start.


By: Iddris Seidu

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