Oman Sail will make history in February 2016 when the Sultanate of Oman becomes the first country in the Middle East to host a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event, a stage of the world’s most famous sailing event, the America’s Cup.
From 27-28 February, the 2016 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman, curtain-raiser to the 2016 season and a point-scoring event ahead of the 2017 America’s Cup, comes to Muscat. For two days, some of the best sailors in the world aboard their foiling AC45 catamarans, capable of breath-taking speeds, will tear along the surface of the water in front of crowds. The action will be broadcast live around the world and followed on television by millions of fans.
The America’s Cup dates back to 1851 and is a competition for the oldest trophy in international sport. In over 160 years, teams representing just four nations – the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland – have won the trophy.
The 2013 America’s Cup was broadcast in 190 countries, covered by 15,000 news bulletins around the world and videos of the event recorded 24.8 million views on YouTube.
Oman Sail CEO David Graham believes that the wide reach of the America’s Cup will create new opportunities for the Sultanate and increase the country’s exposure around the globe.
“The America’s Cup is the pinnacle of sailboat racing with a long and interesting history and we are delighted to be hosting the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event of 2016 here in Oman.
“Oman Sail has worked hard since 2008 to reconnect the people of Oman with their sailing roots and to create a generation of sailors. We have a very successful youth, women, national and international sailing programme and are actively generating socio-economic benefits for the country and contributing to the development of the Omani people through sailing. Hosting a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event will provide huge inspiration to our sailors and take us closer to our aims.
“The America’s Cup brand is incredibly powerful so this will be a monumental opportunity for us to showcase the Sultanate of Oman and to celebrate a landmark moment in the history of Oman Sail.”
Oman Sail has been the driving force behind the Sultanate’s sailing activity since it was established in 2008, introducing a new generation of Omanis to sailing and raising the Sultanate’s profile as a high-end tourism destination through sport.
From introducing many thousands of girls and boys to the sport through its sailing schools and community programmes, through to elite participation, setting world records and winning two Extreme Sailing Series championships, Oman Sail has repeatedly broken new ground in its programmes both on and off the water, culminating in this exciting new development at the highest level of the sport, the America’s Cup.
“We are delighted to announce that we will be hosting the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman here in Muscat for the first time and we are very proud and excited to welcome the America’s Cup community and its massive following to the Sultanate,” said Salim Al Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotion for the Ministry of Tourism.
The America’s Cup trophy took centre stage at the press event hosted by The Chedi, Muscat and attended by David Graham, Oman Sail CEO, Salim Al Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotion for the Ministry of Tourism, and Paul Gregorowitsch, CEO of Oman Air.
Also present for the announcement, Harvey Schiller, America’s Cup Commercial Commissioner, said: “Oman is an ideal place for us to open the 2016 racing calendar. It’s exciting to be bringing America’s Cup racing to this part of the world for the first time. We all look forward to adding to the success of Oman Sail with this historic event.”
Near perfect sailing conditions that consistently deliver 10-15 knots, combined with a sunny climate and warm waters have made Oman a popular destination for many Olympic Classes that have chosen to stage their World Championships at a time of year when the weather in Europe and North America limits training opportunities.
For many of the America’s Cup sailors, including Sir Ben Ainslie (Land Rover BAR), Dean Barker (SoftBank Team Japan) and Franck Cammas (Groupama Team France), the waters off the Sultanate of Oman will be familiar territory, since Muscat has been hosting high performance multihull racing every year since 2011.
With points counting towards the America’s Cup Qualifiers in 2017, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman will give fans their first opportunity of 2016 to see all the runners and riders seeking to gain an early advantage.