Report 44Cup Oman 2023
Season opener with official event
Report 44Cup Oman 2023, 1 – 5 March, Muscat, Oman
We had a lot planned for the new year. In the RC44 crew line-up we had a new addition and the completion of the ninth position. With Anina Fässler and Celia Willison, two crew members joined the team who were equally in line with our goal of promoting young talent and the newly defined rule for promoting women in the RC44 class.
Enthusiastically, we set about starting the year with a team event so that the freshly assembled crew could grow together and the newcomers could find their place more quickly.
Surprisingly, the team event planned in Oman turned out to be more “official” and “Swiss” than planned or expected, in contrast to the oriental environment. The reason for this was an invitation from the Swiss Embassy in Oman, which we received only shortly before our departure. Thomas Oertle, the Swiss ambassador in Oman, had followed our races at the 44Cup Oman last year, but then didn’t find time for a welcome. He wanted to make up for it this year. And since the Swiss Embassy in Oman celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023, the visit of the Black Star Sailing Team fitted in well with the opening of the year. Dr. Khamis bin Salim al Jabri, CEO of Oman Sail, was also invited to celebrate the beginning of the new year with us and our hosts over raclette. Interesting discussions ensued about the geopolitical situation in the region and about the former seafaring nation of Oman, which used to stretch from today’s Abu Dhabi to Yemen and the island of Zanzibar.
Team Building Cultural Exchange
Still in a good mood from the reception at the Swiss Embassy, we set off on an excursion with the entire Black Star Sailing RC44 team. The focus of the short trip was to get to know each other better as a team outside of the usual regatta routines. Apart from joint dinners, there are hardly any opportunities to get to know each other better. As a regatta sailor, you rarely see more than the airport, the hotel, the marina and of course the water of a venue. Encounters with the country and its people are limited to the necessary minimum. Cultural experiences fall by the wayside and at best result from conversations with local helpers of the event organisers.
So our joint day trip to Fort NIzwa was a welcome but also necessary change. On the way in a small bus, a local guide introduced us to the everyday and hidden ways of life in Oman. He told us about the history, culture and religion of his country and tried to answer all our questions. We were also able to discuss western ways of life in conversation, which was very interesting.
Intensive training for the new season
Thanks to the early arrival of the Black Star Shore Team, the yacht could be assembled and put into the water before the team event. Inspired and in a good mood, we were able to start our training sessions the morning after our trip. In an initial briefing, we discussed the integration of Anina and Celia into the team and the best possible position for the ninth person. In the end, however, this could only be finally determined on the water. Only in concrete sailing situations and manoeuvres was it possible to find out how what works best together and how the positions and procedures on board function most effectively. With onboard cameras supplemented with information from the support rib, we were able to discuss the training together in the evening during the debriefing and make improvements.
The moderate wind and water conditions were conducive to the goals we had set ourselves for the first few days of training. We were able to gain some insights and test several setups. Since most of the teams were already on site, we were able to incorporate competitive training sessions and sail the first speed comparisons.
44Cup Oman – Start without reaching the goals
After intensive training days with trimming the yacht in light winds, the conditions suddenly changed on the first day of the regatta. Winds of over 20 knots accompanied by short but steep waves made life difficult for us – after all, we had sailed in such conditions the last time in Marstrand. At that time, however, we started in a different formation and not yet on our Black Star. We had trouble trimming the yacht so that we could get through the waves fast enough. The manoeuvres basically worked well. If you consider that the conditions were new for this crew composition, the manoeuvres even worked very well. Nevertheless, we were not able to build on the results of the previous year and continue the upward trend as we had hoped. Although the conditions led to disappointing results, they also had their good points. They made us experience how quickly we have to learn and adapt to unexpected conditions. It also showed us many issues that we need to work on until the next regatta.
In the end, we were able to confirm to ourselves that we were not completely wrong with the new crew line-up by achieving fourth place in the last race in moderate winds and finishing the event with a respectable result.