Skippered by Fahad al Hasni, a crew of predominantly Omani sailors on board Team Renaissance aims to use all of its skills, experience and local knowledge to its advantage in this year’s EFG Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT) which takes place from February 15-26.

The crew includes Extreme 40 sailor Nasser al Mashari, who is taking time out from his job as bowman of The Wave, Muscat to participate in his first SATT, and Ali al Balushi, who has flown in straight from the 2015 Extreme Sailing Series in Singapore where he raced with Oman Air recently.

Also joining the team are Yasser al Rahbi and Sami al Shukaili, who along with Hasni were members of the Musandam-Oman Sail crew that smashed the Round Britain and Ireland record last summer, and British sailor Philippe Falle, a round-the-world racing yachtsman.

“I have taken part in every edition of the SATT, but this will be my first time as skipper,” said Hasni.

“Part of the challenge for me is to prepare the Omani guys for the future, so it is important for us to do well in this competition. It would mean everything to us if we could achieve a podium place with an Omani crew on an Omani boat. But the competition this year is very hard and there are a lot of experienced sailors taking part – they all want to win.”

Most teams in the SATT have seven crew members, while Team Renaissance will be limited to six owing to the combined weight of the sailors. This should pay dividends when they are beating upwind on the 760 nautical-mile route from Muscat to Manama, Bahrain, which has been reversed this year by Oman Sail.

“We have a lot of big guys on our boat. Sami is 95kg and Nasser is 85kg. We know the winds and waters well because we all live in Oman and we will be well prepared.” said Hasni.

“We have been training with Sidney Gavignet, skipper of EFG Bank, and checking the mast and the sails and have had a lot of help from him. But we want to also beat him.”

Team Renaissance crew: Fahad al Hasni (skipper), Yasser al Rahbi, Nasser al Mashari, Sami al Shukaili, Ali al Balushi, Philippe Falle.