Adam Minoprio, the New Zealander, still holds the record of becoming the youngest World Match Racing Tour champion in 2009, and has been dominating with victories on the GC32 class.
The Kiwi star was handed the responsibility of leading Team Oman Air in the 2019 GC32 Racing Tour Series and he has not disappointed. He led Oman Air to a victorious start to the season with a win in the opening leg in Villasimius, Sardinia, and the third event, Copa del Rey MAFRE.
With the penultimate leg under way at Riva del Garda, Italy, Minoprio spoke to Muscat Daily on Oman Sail’s mission and his Omani crewmate Nasser al Mashari.
The 35 year old skipper said, “I am new to Oman Air team but so far it has been a fantastic experience. We have gelled well as a team and have made a strong start and won two of the three legs in the GC32 Racing Tour.”
The Oman Air crew comprises experienced Peter Greenhalgh and Adam Piggott from Britain and fellow Kiwi in Steven Dodson besides Mashari and Minoprio.
The Kiwi skipper, who has achieved many titles on GC32 Tour since 2013, said, “Nasser is one of the stronger guys on board. He does his job perfectly and is a very reliable crewmember. He is a big asset to the team.”
Minoprio believes that crew fitness is a crucial component in GC32 class and with fitter sailors like Mashari on board, it only helps the team. Though, the New Zealander has been with Oman Sail for only this season, he is all praise for the various sailing programmes run by it.
“Oman Sail has invested and launched training programmes for Omani sailors in various classes and have started achieving success. It is the right way to go ahead and Oman definitely is now growing as a sailing nation.
“With a beautiful coastline and efforts made by Oman Sail, there is no reason why Oman and Omanis can’t grow as a stronger sailing nation in future.”
The former world champion added, “But one has to give time to achieve success at the top. Oman Sail has to focus on Optimist class for the young sailors and beginners. Then gradually the sailors can branch out to other classes based on their talents and abilities.
“With successful Omani sailors like Nasser [al Mashari] serving as an inspiration, the youngsters can follow their dreams. He is a perfect example for the youth to look up to. They have to set their goals and then work hard to achieve it.”
‘Natural ability and hard work’
Minoprio said the key ingredients to become a world champion or a top-level athlete is common in all sports - natural ability and hard work.
“Natural ability can be nurtured when one starts to enjoy the sport he picks up and then there is hard work. It may be a cliché, but without hard work, there is no success even if one has talent,” said Minoprio.
Stressing the importance of heroes, he recalled as a youngster how New Zealand sailing greats of the likes of late Peter Blake, Russell Coutts and Chris Dickson inspired him.
“I started very young and still remember when the America’s Cup was won in 1995 and brought home to New Zealand. We were taking part in the national championship but we were more excited to see the trophy. They were inspirational sailing legends like Peter Blake, Russell Coutts, Chris Dickson, Dean Barker and they have achieved a lot. Heroes certainly pave the path for aspiring youngsters and it is not an impossible task to become a world champion,” he said.
Though it is a long way back since I won the world title, memories are afresh. “I was over the moon when I won the world title in 2009.”
Minoprio had defeated Ben Ainslie in the final then with the latter going on to become another sailing great for Great Britain.
On the title hopes of Oman Air in the ongoing GC32 Racing Tour, he said, “We have a tough competition with Alinghi, which has been together for past four years.
“We will try our best and hopefully good results here at Riva del Garda will set up a thrilling final in Muscat,” he remarked. “We are in with a good shot at the overall title,” Minoprio said.
‘All-Omani team possible’
The skipper said that it was possible for Oman Sail to enter an all-Omani team in GC32 Racing Tour but it would require lots of time as it first needs to identify a young group of sailors.
“There’s a need for six-seven young sailors who can be trained for few years together if Oman Sail has any plans to launch an all-Omani team in GC32 Racing Tour,” he said.
He said that Nasser, who is a very good listener and a fast learner, can guide them. “I have been impressed with Nasser and his work ethics are very good. Omani youngsters can benefit a lot from him.”