The young novices on board Team IMCO are preparing for the ride of their lives in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2015, but with just a few months of sailing experience between them, they have few expectations of toppling the champions.
Making their debut in The Tour, Team IMCO, representing the International Maritime College Oman, is also playing host to the first stopover of the new look 2015 race after the fleet leave Muscat on February 15th.
The team is skippered by Mathijs Wagemans, an experienced Dutch sailor who doubles up as Head of Port, Shipping and Transportation Management Department at IMCO, located in Sohar, 200kms north of Muscat. Putting together a brand new team has been an exciting project, said Wagemans who will return to the Netherlands the day after EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour concludes, following a four year assignment in Oman.
Wagemans has been helped in his preparations by Mohsin Al Busaidi, Oman Sail’s Keelboat and Women Team Manager and the first Arab to sail around the world non-stop, who designed the selection programme and put the raw recruits through their paces.
“We started in September with Mohsin who introduced the guys to sailing. His emphasis from the outset was not on winning but on showing how commitment has a direct relationship to achievement. Our selection process began with 30 students who all completed their Oman Sail Level 1 and 2 courses and we have whittled the squad down to nine sailors who have been undergoing intensive training since November. Obviously, we don’t expect to compete for the podium so for the guys, this is all about enjoying the experience. They will remember it for the rest of their lives.”
EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is a unique sailing challenge and the only Pan-GCC offshore sailing race of its kind in the region. It showcases four different countries across a course of 760 nautical miles and 15 days, which, since it was established in 2011, has appealed to all types of sailors from some of the highest profile offshore sailors in the world to complete amateurs.
In 2015, the fifth edition of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour sees a dramatic change in the route. After the opening stage from Muscat, teams will set sail for Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, as well as Qatar and Bahrain, with inshore races in Dubai and Doha.
“It will be beautiful weather and beautiful scenery… and it will be second to none in terms of support from Oman Sail. Our aim is to improve with every leg and maximise what we can do,” added Wagemans. “It is important that everyone on Team IMCO stays motivated when progress against the other very experienced teams will be frustrating and that everyone is pushed to their limits. The changes in weather will be a challenge and it will be interesting to see how we as a team react to that and how quickly we pick things up.”
His students, who hail from Oman, Kazakhstan and India, and are all studying for their Merchant Navy qualifications or qualifying as marine engineers at IMCO, have been handed a once in a lifetime opportunity, says Wagemans who will hope to pass on the experience of his 25 year career in sailing Olympic class and IRC boats. “It is going to be great experience. If you don’t expect to compete for the podium, this is all about enjoying the experience and these guys will remember this for the rest of their lives.”
Team IMCO Crew:
- Mathijs Wagemans
- Patrick Wells
- Jayakrishnan Krishnan
- Kirill Samaray
- Nauryzbek Bekpembetov
- Azmat Nazkeyev
- Olzhas Kappassov
- Ali Al Barwani
- Omar Al Mamari
- Mohamed Al Mazroui
- Mazin Al Khusaibi
- Bastiaan Brouwer
- Training sessions – 11-14th February, Muscat
- Leg 1 – 15th February, Muscat – Sohar
- Leg 2 – 17th February, Sohar – RAK
- Leg 3 – 19th February, RAK – Dubai
- Leg 4 – 23rd February, Dubai – Abu Dhabi
- Leg 5 – 24th February, Abu Dhabi – Doha
- Leg 6 – 26th February, Doha – Manama