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Sailors battle the elements on day 4 of Mussanah Open Championship

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Sailors battle the elements on day 4 of Mussanah Open Championship
Sailors battle the elements on day 4 of Mussanah Open Championship

Unpredictable winds on the fourth day of competition at the Mussanah Open Championships posed a new challenge to competitors across all classes with many struggling in the conditions. The day started well with clear skies and light winds but as the day progressed the winds dropped completely before changing direction throwing many off course.

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In the 49er class, the Indian pair of KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar retain top spot with Benjamin Talbot and Alex Burger of South Africa and the Chinese pairing of Hong Wei and Chao Xiang switching places from yesterday, ending the day with the Chinese team in second and the South African duo in third. Thai pairing Don and Dylan Whitcraft are fourth and the Omani team of Musab Al Hadi and Waleed Al Kindi in fifth. Just a single point separates third to fifth leaving all to play for in tomorrow’s races.
The top two in the 49er FX class switched places yesterday and switched back today. After today’s races, China’s Ye Jin and Chen Shasha return to the top with the team of Molly Highfield and Sandy Wing Chi Choi from Hong Kong in second. Thailand’s Kamonchanok Klahan and Nichapa Waiwai stay in third place.

In the Laser class, Ryan Lo Jun Han took top spot today with a second place and first place, repeating his form from yesterday. India’s Vishnu Saravanan gained a place from yesterday to finish the day in second while Keerati Bualong of Thailand is in third place.

Singapore’s Ryan Lo Jun Han, leader in the Laser standard Class, said, “It was a very nice day for sailing today with light winds to begin with but difficult later on as we tried to find the wind from the sea breeze. It was also mentally a very tough day, but it is important to stay consistent and not have any major faults. I was excited to finish with a second and a first place, and I hope that by the event of the competition I will be able to represent my country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”

Nethra Kumaman of India retained her position at the top of the leaderboard today, as she and her teammates once more hold three of the top four places. Dutch sailor Emma Savelon is second, Harshita Tomar is third and Ramya Saravanan is fourth. Stephanie Norton from Hong Kong is currently fifth, level on points with fourth place, and Kim Jia of South Korea is sixth with just four points separating third place and sixth place.

Nethra Kumaman, current leader in the Laser Radial class, said, “My aim is to be consistent and keep the points low so that I have an advantage going into the final days. Today was difficult because the wind suddenly died then came back during the race and I made some mistakes, but there are still two days to go so we’ll see what happens.”

In the RS:X men’s class, Thai windsurfer Natthapong Phonoppharat continues to lead from Filipino duo Yancy Kaibigan and Geylord Coveta, although their teammate Renz Amboy made impressive gains today alongside Indian surfer Ebad Ali. In the women’s class, Amanda Ng Ling Kai from Singapore has overtaken Charizanne Napa of the Philippines after winning both of today’s rounds. India’s Ishwariya Ganesh remains in third.

With the competition so close, it is vital that the judging panel utilises every advantage they have. The Jury for the Mussanah Open Championship is comprised of six members, four international and two from Oman. Chairman of the Jury is Leonard Chin, who explains the innovations in sailing adjudication being used during the event.

“It is our job to check for any illegal propulsion of the boat. The boat should only be powered by the wind, the waves and the current. If the competitor uses his body to power the boat or balance the sail, any kind of body kinetics, this is not allowed,” he said. “If we spot this, we will penalise them. This is to make it fair for every sailor.”

“The boats are far apart in sailing, so we use a video camera filmed from judge’s boats on the water to capture any incidents and allow us to make a fair decision on any protest lodged by a competitor. We are looking to move to a completely online system, reducing person-to-person contact and becoming sustainable in line with World Sailing’s priorities. One of the key developments in the future will be to use tracking devices on the boats to record the position, reducing the need for judge’s boats on the water, especially for long races, and also providing evidence for complaints,” he added.

The Mussanah Open Championship is supported by host venue Millennium Resort Mussanah with addition sponsorship from the International Maritime College Oman (IMCO), Salsabeel water from National mineral water company, Carrefour Oman and OHI Telecommunications. Tomorrow is the penultimate day of racing where competitors will aim to end the day in prime position ahead of the all-important final day.

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