December 21, 2012

Oman - 2013 Laser World's Venue

Laser Regattas:

Mussanah Race Week
March 10-16, 2013
Free entry, charter, coaching (Paul Goodison & Andy Maloney)

Standard Men's Worlds
November 14-23, 2013

Masters Worlds
Nov. 28 - Dec. 7, 2013

Radial Worlds
Dec. 27 - Jan 3, 2014

by Evelyn Robinson

Culture, Nature and Outdoor Activities Combine During a Visit to Oman

Competing in Mussanah Race Week or in the Laser World Championships also held there later in the year, is an exciting opportunity in itself. However, the chance to travel to Oman and explore this country steeped in history and its rich culture, along with its natural wonders, is an added bonus. If you are unfamiliar with Oman and what it has to offer its visitors, here we provide an overview of what you can look forward to during your visit, along with some practical information.


Rainfall is very low year round. Temperatures vary, but in March and November they can reach as high as 30°C. January is the coldest month, though temperatures never tend to fall below 17°C and typically are around the mid-twenties.


Oman has a long history, with evidence that it was first settled 10,000 years ago. Its location – surrounded by the Arabian Sea, Arabian Gulf and Sea of Oman – has influenced its culture, as this has facilitated travel both to other lands and has allowed others to settle here. Arabic is the main language, but English is widely spoken, making it easier for visitors during their stay. Oman is a Muslim country, but the people are very tolerant of other religions and cultures. It is one of the more liberal Middle Eastern countries, but it is still advisable to be conservative in the way that you dress and it is best practice for women to wear clothing that covers their arms and legs; though you can usually be more relaxed in hotels, bars and restaurants. However, swimwear is acceptable in pools and at beaches. Traditional food consists of lightly spiced chicken, mutton or fish with rice and vegetables, but due to Oman’s cosmopolitan nature International cuisine is widely available. It is illegal to drink alcohol in public places, though this can be easily purchased from licensed bars.


Millennium Resort
The recommended 4 star Millennium Resort at Al-Mussanah, situated on the Gulf of Oman, offers modern and luxurious accommodation with views on all sides of the marina; some rooms additionally look out over the Hajar Mountains.  Here you are perfectly situated for the race week and you have access to their 54 berth private marina. The hotel also offers a swimming pool and is in the process of developing a gym, spa and tennis courts. Their private beach fringed by palms serves as the ideal spot for relaxation, but if you want to do more than take up position on one of their sun loungers, make use of the volleyball and soccer courts. Hotel rooms and self-catered apartments are available and if staying in the hotel all meals can be provided. Guests have a range of dining options. At Mydan an International buffet is available and Moroccan and Far Eastern cooking combine at Al Bahar; snacks and cocktails are on offer at The Deck, while coffee and cakes are served in the Naseen Lounge.

Getting around

The transfer time from Muscat International Airport to the Millennium resort is only 45 minutes and transport via coach or taxi can be arranged on booking. It’s possible to rent a car directly through the hotel, but you require an international driving license and an induction on local driving. While the road signs can sometimes be difficult to read, the added freedom that having a car allows certainly makes up for this inconvenience. There is currently no mainline railway in Oman and although plans are underway, it is not expected to open till 2017.It is popular for visitors to take taxis, but you need to be prepared to haggle to get a fair price; the hotel staff can advise you on what would be a reasonable fare to pay. If you would rather take public transport buses are available, but you can also join coach tours to popular attractions.

The area and its attractions

Old Muscat
Visitors are attracted to Oman by its combination of cultural sites and natural beauty; often the two are very closely linked. Al-Mussanah is situated around 75 miles from Oman’s capital, Muscat. The area of Old Muscat – around which the modern city has grown - is favored by visitors and its small size makes it amenable to explore on foot. With its white washed buildings, many of which date from the medieval period, it is surrounded by city walls built in the 16th century and entry to the old city is via a magnificent gate. One of the most striking buildings is the Al Alam Palace with its blue, white and gold pillars, which is the residence of the sultan. Old Muscat also boasts two forts built on the hillsides, though these are not open to the public. Don’t miss a stroll around the picturesque harbor during your visit. The Muscat Gate House Museum, which tells the history of Oman and particularly focuses on Muscat and the royal family, offers an impressive vista of the city and harbor from its roof top. A visit to Old Muscat would not be complete without wandering around its market, where local traders display their crafts and textiles.

Nakhal Fort
Oman has many forts and castles, two of which are within easy reach of Al-Mussanah. Nakhal Fort – set amongst the Western Hajar Mountains at the foot of Mount Nakhal – is a 25 mile drive to the South East. Built in 1834 it is one of the most remarkable landmarks in the region with its imposing towers; its architecture is intriguing, as it is built around unusually shaped rocks, which form part of the structure itself. The building has been renovated and is now filled with crafts and antiques. The nearby Thuara hot spring has been popular with visitors for centuries, as its mineral content is considered to have health enhancing properties. Al Hazm Castle is also a must to visit. This 18th century castle with its two towers is particularly impressive, as at their narrowest the walls are over 8 feet thick. Visitors can see its courtyard and living quarters, as well as its two escape tunnels, one of which is 19 miles long and leads to the Ar Rustaq Fort.

Oman is blessed with almost 2000 miles of coastline, which draws sailors and divers from all over the world, not to mention those seeking its pristine sandy beaches. Al-Sawadi beach, 19 miles away from Al-Mussanah, is considered to be one of Oman’s most beautiful beaches. It also features numerous rock islands in close proximity to the shore, which are home to a wealth of birdlife. The beach is as popular with those wishing to soak up the sun, as divers keen to explore the nearby reefs and those who wish to try their hand at kitesurfing. Additionally, boat trips to observe whales, dolphins and turtles can be booked. It is also possible to take one of the mini cruises to the Daymaniyat Islands situated just 10 miles off the coastline. These nine islands with their white sand beaches are an important nature reserve and classed as one of the best places to dive and snorkel off Oman thanks to their crystal clear waters and the array of sea life that they support. Just off shore you can explore the coral reefs, which are awash with colorful fish and clown fish, barracuda and turtles are also commonly seen.

Hiking in the Hajar Mountains offers visitors breathtaking views and while you can undertake this yourself, it is advisable to hire a guide. One of the most rewarding treks is up Jabal Shams - translated as Sun Mountain – which at its summit reaches almost 10,000 ft and is the highest point on the Arabian Peninsula. The An Nakhr Balcony is a deep ravine, which can be viewed from the summit, as can the tumbling waterfalls, which have shaped the valleys below. It is important to remember that the temperatures at altitude are considerably lower and over the winter in particular it can feel cold as you near the summit; if you intend to hike remember to pack adequate clothing.

Not only are the mountainous regions beautiful, but their geological importance has been recognized by the creation of 30 geoheritage sites around Muscat and Al-Mussanah, which allow visitors to learn more about the geology of the area. Smart phone applications are available to help guide you around the sites and provide information on the geological processes. Phenomena that can be seen include mini and major folds, Jurassic bedding, schist bedding, pillow lava and limestone faults.

As you can see, when not participating in events, Oman has a wealth of attractions for you and your family to enjoy. Make the most of your opportunity to visit this enchanting country with its varied landscapes, historical sites and possibilities for leisure activities.

December 20, 2012

Merry Christmas?

by Pam

It's Christmas time!  A time of shopping, parties, family, cards, letters, and presents. And yet, I start each day with a drive that takes me past flags flying at half mast and news that shows me images of funerals.  Reality!  It doesn't feel like Christmas at all.

This year has been one of some hard lessons. You see Doug and I were banned for life from one yacht club and Doug was banned from the Laser fleet from another yacht club.  Now the infractions that caused these bannings were things like, well, Doug has a blog and often takes pictures and video while sailing and that's not ok.  You know, not really justifiable reasons but rather excuses to justify what appears to be fear, hatred, jealousy or some other negative emotion. Check you own emotional reaction to this paragraph and keep reading. 

When we see hurtful behavior and violence in the world, it isn't anything new. Just varying degrees.  And for some odd reason the heat has really been turned up in the US and it has most definitely tapped us on the shoulder all year long and Doug and I have struggled for understanding.  We came to learn that hurt people, hurt people. What starts out as feeling like a justifiable reason (reaction), soon becomes just another act of hurting people.

The latest violence against school children is perplexing because there is no obvious explainable or justifiable reason for the violence.  But that’s the point, there really never is a justifiable reason to hurt others to any degree.  People are quite passionate in their theories in this latest case.  Gun control, media coverage, mental illness care, parenting, violent video games.  But, as people struggle for understanding and argue their theories, there is more division.  Doug and I have learned, that division is where the problems all begin.

The recent deaths of so many innocent children has sparked alot of emotion as to the root cause.  For a moment, remove your understanding of spoken language and step back for a higher level perspective and observe the body language, voice inflection, and the raw emotions as you or others voice the strongly felt opinions.  It ain't friendly.  Doesn't look it or sound it.  In fact, it might look and sound a bit like what was quietly being felt inside the individual perpetrating the violence.  It isn't loving, tolerant, or forgiving.  It divides one individual or group from another and it perpetuates a destructive cycle.  Just because you think something is right, doesn’t mean the other person is wrong.  The change begins with each of us.

Christmas time is about family, friends, forgiveness and acceptance.  Although, it may not feel very much like Christmas this year, we desperately need the Christmas spirit.  We need only look to the Amish in the aftermath of their school shooting.  A lesson in grace, the spirit of Christmas.

December 17, 2012


By Doug
My post about cheating sparked lots of comments, both on and off the record.  It's no wonder.  Even animals have a strong sense of fairness, as this very entertaining TED video shows.

Full video can be seen at

December 10, 2012

Lasers for Longevity

by Pam
I've reached the age where I'm receiving newsletters and advertisements for retirement, long term health care and life insurance. A recent newsletter contained a statistic that stopped me in my tracks:

70% of the US population will need some kind of chronic illness care by the time they are 65 years old.

Holy crap!  70% By 65!  So, obviously I'm asking myself if Doug and I are going to be in the 30% or 70%?

You'd think that by sailing a Laser, we'd have a really decent shot at being in the 30%. After all, it's like owning your own personal gym. A day of racing is like doing a strength, endurance and flexibility workout all at the same time. But on top of that, you get this amazing cerebral workout as well. The Laser is even better than having a personal trainer because it can reward and thrill you about a workout in a way that no trainer could but it will also punish and motivate you for not staying in shape. How could being a Laser sailor not land you in the 30%?

Doug is US Sailing's Area F Coordinator for the Singlehanded Championship. And since Doug enjoys paperwork as much as he enjoys watching sailing from shore with a blindfold on, this organizational task has fallen to me. So, I started doing some research to find out what kind of Laser activity we have in Area F. Area F is the largest sailing area in the US and encompasses all or part of 4 Laser Districts. Participation, although up from the last few years, it is way down from earlier years and way down from its potential. I wonder why?

Laser sailing is such excellent insurance for living a long and healthy life. Why are the numbers going down? Why is the obesity rate in the US increasing? Why are so many sailors switching to bigger, less active boats, and why, every year, do these sailors look bigger and less healthy than they were the year before? If you only gain 3 pounds a year, in 5 years you will be 15 pounds overweight. Why choose a lifestyle (and boat) that will likely land you in the 70%? I don't get it.

The change in Laser sailing activity among the Masters in Laser District 15 sort of loosely looks a little like the 70% / 30% thing going on with health in the US. If you look at the number of Laser Masters who are still actively sailing and compare it to the same group's participation numbers of 10 years ago, the shocking 70% by 65 statistic starts to look uncomfortably realistic. The real kicker is that it may very well be your choice on whether you land in the 70% or 30%. Chronic illness care or Laser sailing? Hmmm.

Unfortunately, there are those Laser sailors that find themselves in the 70%. Did they not sail enough? Was it just plain old genetics? Do they feel cheated? Or are they grateful for the memories? Doug recently talked with an old Laser sailing friend in his 80s who is suffering from Alzheimer's. He remembered Doug when they spoke and told him he'd been out sailing his Laser the weekend before. He hadn't. While I'm sure the experience is not much fun for his wife, at least, in his mind, the guy is still enjoying sailing. Even if he doesn't cheat the nursing home, in his mind, he may still die on his Laser. That can't be all bad.

December 08, 2012

Never Give Up

by Pam
This video went viral in May.  I'm not sure if it has hit the sailing world but it's worth watching and deciding if it will help your sailing fitness.  DDP Yoga ... it ain't your mama's yoga.

Full Rig Option for Great Grand Masters in Oman

A friend has asked us if we know any Great Grand Masters who are planning to attend the Laser Master Worlds in Oman (light air) and would like to add their names to a petition for a full rig option.  Any takers?

Update:  Provisionally approved pending final approval before the end of the year - per World Council Meeting Summary

December 05, 2012

Catching Waves on a Reach (sort of)

by Pam
In my efforts to learn the coordinated movements of catching waves, Doug and I went for a sail two up.  Doug steered and I sat forward.  What he described as he caught "waves" was minor compared to when I looked back and saw him doing a dance.  It all comes natural to him and he couldn't verbalize what he was doing.  So, we tried an experiment.  I'm not sure it was successful but it's at least a reference point for beginning the process of learning.  Because we were two up, running is too tippy so we reached and because we were heavy, his movements are exaggerated which actually helps me see the different weight shifts.  Next time, we try it with me at the helm.

December 01, 2012

Sometimes ya just gotta have fun!

By Doug
Sometimes we go sailing to compete. Sometimes we go to train. And sometimes we go just to have fun. Here we are playing at White Rock Lake on a gorgeous fall day when it was gusting up to 25.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...