(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Oman Sail's efforts to have two teams competing in the opening Act of the 2013 Extreme Sailing Series (ESS) paid off as it announced the name of Team Duqm Oman as the host's invitational team on Monday. Team Duqm Oman will join Oman Sail's other entry, defending champion The Wave, Muscat, in the inaugural leg of the 2013 ESS beginning on Tuesday.
Muscat Daily had reported last month that Oman Sail was in the final round of talks to get Team Duqm Oman on board as a replacement for last year's runner-up Oman Air.
Oman's Nasser al Mashari, who was Oman Air's bowman, has been selected to be the face of Team Duqm Oman which was unveiled at Oman Sail's headquarters at The Wave, Muscat. The announcement was made in the presence of officials from the sponsors, Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZAD) - an integrated project that includes Port of Duqm and Oman Dry Dock Company.
Saleh al Hasni (SEZAD representative), Reggy Vermeulen (Port of Duqm's commercial director), George Daniel (Oman Dry Dock Company's chief financial officer), Issa al Ismaili (Oman Sail's events director) and James Greenhough (Oman Sail's sponsorship manager) addressed the media. Vermeulen said, ''We are proud to be associated with the Extreme Sailing Series as it is a great opportunity to project Duqm on the global map with Oman moving towards diversification from fossil fuel.
Though we were given a short notice to come onboard, we are delighted to be part of the top-class sailing event.'' With Team Duqm Oman confirming its entry for only the Muscat leg, Vermeulen said, ''We are in discussions to see the possibility of the team's participation in the remaining seven legs.
We don't rule it out.'' Great Britain's Robert Greenhalgh, winner of the first edition of the ESS in 2007 at the helm of Basilica, has been named the team's skipper. The 36 year old Greenhalgh is one of UK's most talented sailors, having won major championships on small dinghies as well as round-the-world yachts. A world champion in the 18' skiff category and runner-up in Volvo Ocean Race with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team, Greenhalgh has raced in three Volvo Ocean Races and completed seven Atlantic crossings. Speaking to Muscat Daily on Monday, Greenhalgh said, ''We won the Series way back in 2007 and were runner-up in 2008. Things have obviously evolved a lot since then and the Series now is much more competitive. This boat is the hardest to sail.'' On the team participating only in the first Act as of now, Greenhalgh said, ''We are treating this as a one-off event. I hope we will do well and the sponsors can then back the team for the rest of the Series.
For us, as professional sailors, we are here to perform and hope to do our best.'' Greenhalgh has been associated with Oman Sail in the past. He had skippered Oman Sail's Renaissance at the 33rd Tour de France la Voile in 2010. In fact, there was a sense of nostalgia when Greenhalgh spoke about a young Mashari onboard Renaissance in that Tour de France race. ''Yes, it's great to be back in Oman. I had worked with Oman Sail in the past and they are doing a great job in promoting the sport in the country and across the world. We hope to do well with Nasser onboard.
He did well in the Extreme 40 format last year,'' Greenhalgh said. Greenhalgh is joined by British Extreme 40 heavyweights - all of them had participated last year. They are Andrew Walsh who shared the skipper duties of GAC Pindar, Will Howden, an Olympic Tornado crew member who came in second with Oman Air, and Bleddyn Mon, who competed at four Acts with The Wave, M